Pogacar would not collaborate, especially with van Aert, he was disrupting the chase for his UAE teammate.Maybe a way for two favourites (in this case Van Aert and Pogacar) to handle a situation like the one 30 kilometers from the finish line would be to join forces and make a coordinated attack. We've seen Van Aert do this with van der Poel in other situations. By attacking together, they can prevent having to close down the inevitable series of attacks from all the others, while still being a strong duo that can keep a gap to the pursuers.
The second best thing would be to go alone.
If the top favourites decide on just closing everything down within the last 30 kilometers, there will always be a very big risk of running out of fuel and not being able to respond to one of the attacks.
And that is one of the interesting things. I get why no one wanted to collaborate (so did van Aert!), but in making it a negative race, they sewered their own changes. For these reasons I am glad Carapaz won (daring) and I am glad van Aert still got second ... a bit of a screw you to the rest. Woods should have used more tactical sense ... he burned at least three big matches on extended attacks (one was downhill ffs) and was really looking to go solo, but he is not a strong enough TT'ist to go solo and he should figure that out by now. He would have been reallllllly wise to try to go with van Aert. He might (highly unlikely, but might) have been able to do something similar to Carapaz on a late small rise, but even if he wasn't, if they stayed away he would have had a medal, which is a lot better than 5th. The mental math for a number of folks was actually easy - go in a break with someone who will likely outsprint you, but you have a small shot and your worst case is a medal, or gamble someone does that work for you and you are almost guaranteed to lose out.
A lot of people were pretty cooked and had cooked racer brains.