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The breakaway

21/02/2022

Five milestones of the 2021 Milano-Sanremo: the breakaway

296.7 km to go to Sanremo.

The finish line is just a mirage, a distant promise – two regions to cross, and nearly seven hours in the saddle to go, along the Ligurian coastline.

And still, incredible as it may seem, a break escapes on that very moment. Eight riders choose to leave the comfort of the peloton and go on adventure.

The least we can do is remember their names: Filippo Tagliani and Mattia Viel (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec), Andrea Peron and Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk), Mathias Norsgaard Jørgensen (Movistar Team), Nicola Conci (Trek – Segafredo), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani CSF Faizane’) and Taco Van Der Hoorn (Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux).

Van Der Hoorn is the last to surrender to the resurgent chasing peloton. Eventually, he is brought back on the Cipressa, 24 kilometres before the finish, after being away for roughly 273 km (give or take a metre). The longest breakaway of the year.

You may wonder why a rider would come to the fore and be out in the wind for over six hours, when being virtually sure he cannot jostle for victory. Even if any of them miraculously made it to the Poggio in the lead, would they still have the strength to hold off the attacks of those who were sheltered in the bunch until then?

There are many possible answers to that question: to give exposure to the teams and the sponsors, to grasp the opportunity to get some kilometres in the legs, to take front rank on home roads.

Or just for the fun of it, that’s pretty straightforward (and no less important). They may want to be remembered for their leading role in the first monument classic of the season, and perhaps recall that moment with their children or grandchildren, years from then: “I was there, that day. I set out on an adventure with seven others, just outside Milan, chasing a mirage that was nearly 300 kilometres away.”

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