“We’ve been at the front when it counts, but a lot of the time, maybe before the TV footage even starts, we’ve actually tried to sit back a little bit,” Rowe told Cycling Weekly.
“That’s slightly different than previous years. We’ve saved a lot of energy doing that.”
Ahead of the summit finishes to Arcalís and Mont Ventoux, Froome had around four to five helpers. For many, it appeared that Team Sky were the only team with a grip, not considering strong teams like Tinkoff, Astana and Movistar.
Watch: Highlights of stage 14 at the 2016 Tour de France
“If it’s windy or coming into a climb or going over small roads, then we’ll be at the front. If you are on a big road and it’s a block headwind, then we’ll take the opportunity to sit back a little bit,” Rowe added.
“Even when we are riding on the front, we are always conscience of being on the protected side of the wind. Trying to do it in a smart way.”
Team Sky’s mountain men – Wout Poels, Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve and Sergio Henao – will ride at the front early on flat days and save the classics men for the final kilometres in a stage like the windy one to Villars-Les-Dombes on Saturday.
“I think it takes a pretty sick person to enjoy a windy day,” Rowe added. “I can do it, I’m quite good at it, but if I’m racing for myself and it’s windy, then I’d enjoy it. When you are racing with the yellow jersey behind you, and it’s windy and the pressure’s on you to make sure he makes the split, then there’s not much to enjoy. “
Rowe saw Poels and Froome step off the bus and he joked with them before they took their bikes for stage 14. They laugh often despite the seriousness of days like the one to Mont Ventoux, when Froome crashed and ran to save his yellow jersey.
Afterwards, doctored photographs circulated on social media with Froome running a marathon and with rhinos in Africa.
“We just have to laugh at it,” explained Rowe. “Even he’s seen the funny side of it. It’s just something you’ve never seen before and you’ll never see again. If you told me before the Tour started that the yellow jersey was going to be running up Ventoux without a bike, you just wouldn’t believe it.”