An ode to the deeply doomed solo breakaway

We all know how this will end.

Iain Treloar
by Iain Treloar 07.07.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Dear Simon Guglielmi, 

We see you, and we feel your pain. You have chosen the hard life today on this, the 7th stage of the Tour de France, a week into a very hard race that has crossed borders and mountain ranges. You went off the front on a hot day along boring straight roads, hoped for friends, and then they left you. 

You are the first deeply doomed solo breakaway of the Tour de France. We know – and you know it, too –  that your move is not a breakaway like Victor Lafay’s on stage 2, which saw your countryman claim a green-ish jersey and a win. It is also not a move like Jai Hindley’s, which was a feel-good moment for the ages. Your move is the most impactful one of Arkea-Samsic’s entire race, but that is saying very little; it is calibrated only to draw the eyes of television viewers to your sponsors. You are racing for the glory of a bank and a human resources firm.

Maybe some of that glory rubs off on you, too, and as a plucky everyday battler of the peloton that’s not the worst thing, because peripheral glory is where your money is made. No private jets for the Guglielmis of the sport: in 2021 one of your contract perks was a silver Peugeot 208 hatchback with your name on it for a few months, followed by exactly the same in white.

You are in a contract year, and you are making a spirited go of it – but not so spirited that you’re not having a little chuckle with Christian Prudhomme in his big red car, or a smile and a wave at the cameras. We have driven the route today, and what you have seen so far is about all you will see. Forest, small town, forest, feedzone. 

Behind you, the peloton is taking the piss. Taking a piss, too. And there are too many faster men with too much to gain today that they will ever allow you to get away. At a foundational level, Simon, you know this is futile. In fact, it’s so futile that even the other three people that initially joined you in the breakaway noped their way out of it almost immediately. Even Mathieu Burgaudeau – even that guy! – was a Mathieu Burgaudeaun’t. 

And so you ride. The hustle and bustle of the intermediate sprint shaved a full minute off your lead, and with dwindling energy you pilot your aesthetically-challenging Bianchi toward Bordeaux, a destination that you will never, ever reach before being consumed in a technicolour whoosh. You will cross the line as one of dozens rather than one of a kind, and then it will all be over.

You are hot, and you are alone, and you are deeply doomed. But today, the world sees you. 


Escape Collective

Update: Guglielmi has been caught by Pierre Latour and Nans Peters, meaning that there are now three riders who are equally doomed.

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