Again, the question isn't about what we the spectators feel is irrelevant because our particular sentiment about it is something that most definitely IS irrelevant. Pro teams do not sit around and say "oh lets not contest 4th place, because Contador fans don't care about it".Ryo Hazuki said:no I wouldn't. when have you heard me about henao's 9th place last year, only about him doing well in a first gt. but result wise anything but podium is not worth mentioning. if a rider is young or a first gt then it's great indication and only idiot riders care who lack any mentality to win races.
The term relevance here refers to whether it is relevant to the riders and teams, NOT the spectators.
At some point though, even young riders in their first GT stop actively contesting GC position. Where do you think that generally occurs? It sure as heck isn't around 10th. Different classes of rider obviously stop contesting at different stages. Contador continued to contest his position in 2011 even when he was in 5th and had absolutely no hope of winning, but in 2010 once Cadel dropped to about 8th or 9th he clearly eased off and ended up 34th or whatever. It actually would have more to do with the time gap however, than the actual GC placing. If only 20 sec separated the top 40, I reckon you can bet your life that the top 40 will all contest GC place.