The French have an instinct to latch onto wheels that pass them on the road. It’s something I nearly never do unless I’m in a race, so I don’t really understand it.
Regardless, it happens to me from time to time. Today on the climb coming back into Nîmes, I passed a rider who ‘bonjoured’ me and kept his pace. His friend was a hundred meters up the road and I rode past him, too. Seconds later I could hear his squeaky crank right behind me.
It’s at this point decisions need to be made. Do you shift down and try to drop him? Sit up and see if he passes you? Keep the pace and hope he’s riding beyond his pay grade? When I get a wheel sucker I nearly always try and pretend I don’t know he’s there, then ramp up the power (if I can) gradually over the climb. The French are tenacious and this technique doesn’t always work, and I had this rider on my wheel for a kilometer or more before the squeak started to drift off into the distance. Is there any sweeter sound than a rider being dropped when you are the dropper?
That was a rhetorical question, by the way…