Everyone keeps wondering why bother to fly all the way over to Europe when he could do this workout with Rupp in Oregon. Have people forgotten that Rupp and Salazar are already in Europe? It doesn't seem that outrageous that Webb is going around with those guys and training while Rupp is racing.
As far as why do this instead of just a time trial workout with Rupp or some other guys (what other guys are people talking about, btw? It's cheaper to enter a race with a dozen 1:51ish guys than to hire a couple of them to pace your time trial), have people forgotten what one of the main criticisms of Webb's has been? He knows what it's like to run time trials, he needs to remember what it's like to run in a pack of guys that are racing...it can't hurt to get used to it, even if he's just practicing.
So if I'm Salazar, I'm traveling around Europe with Rupp, I want Webb to run a workout that includes a hard 800 time trial type effort, and I think it can't hurt to get him used to running in a pack again, bust a little rust, and mentally get that whole "I haven't raced in 18 months" thing out of his head, this race seems likes the perfect idea. And Webb does well when he has confidence. He gets confidence when he wins, or maybe when he gets 7th and has Salazar whispering in his ear and reminding him that he was taking it easy, practicing, and that soon he'll be winning races those guys couldn't even get in. I've paced people in races before, way below my ability, and as stupid as it may sound, it does feel good to run with all these people and know that when you're at your best, you can whip them. As long as he remembers that, it's a good feeling.
As far as what this result means for Webb...I don't know. He certainly looked fresh at the end, like he wasn't going all out. That could be because he was taking it easy as part of a workout, or because his strength is way better than his speed at this point. I think it's safe to say that he might have been able to go a bit faster, but he certainly wasn't in 1:43 or even 1:45 shape. If he races a few more times, it wouldn't be surprising to see him get down to 1:47-1:49, 3:37-3:40, 13:30-13:45 this year.
In short, we can't really evaluate this since we don't have enough information about what they planned on and intended this for. But, seeing as how it's pretty obvious that they didn't intend this as a 'big comeback' with a world leading time, I don't think we can view this as a disappointment, but rather we should just be patient and see what happens.