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After a catastrophic fall-out with his professional cycling team, Dominic thinks back to when he first met his boss and best friend, Liam Greene. In 2003, a fifteen year old Dominic discovers his bicycle can emancipate him from small-town life, and finds a confidant in Liam. Dominic and Liam experience teenage life together, and along the way, Dominic’s unlikely crush on Amanda Grass ends in heartbreak when Liam announces he’s her boyfriend. By 2008, Dominic is the star of a small, corrupt British cycling team, with a small group of close friends. Liam returns from a winter in France facilitated by Henri Giroud, and stakes his claim as a champion. He quits in dramatic fashion to join the biggest team in the world. Dominic quits out of solidarity, and spends three months soul-searching on Koksijde, before finding a place on a small Belgian team.
Disillusioned journalist Susan conquers a hangover and the amorous advances of sports writer Steve, then haphazardly covers an event she doesn’t consider particularly newsworthy. Ahe’s placed on a performance plan by editor Jonah and his deputy, Nathan, but while it prompts her to attempt to improve her life, she soon relapses into bad habits. As she finishes up the launch of the G Magazine with an existential horror playing on her mind, she finally admits her alcoholism.
Henri Giroud’s articles border on the nonsensical, and his commentary is an assorted mix of grunts and misunderstandings. He arrives for a voiceover job, where his inability baffles his new colleagues. But perhaps an essay for Cahiers du Cyclisme hints that he’s more cognizant of the cycling world than he’s given credit for.
In 2009, Dominic arrives in Pollensa to join his new team, but is confronted by an empty hotel and a room already occupied by another person. After wandering the island contemplating the isolated life he’d have in a perfect world, he retires to bed, where he terrifies a sleeping Wes Speksnjider so much that it wakes up the entire hotel. Wes soon becomes a close friend, but Dominic is separated from him for a year after exhibiting some truly naughty behaviour. Meeting Clarkey along the way and barely recognising him confirms to Dominic that Wes is his only friend left in the world, and works hard to ensure they’ll be reunited as the stars of the team. Dominic establishes himself as the star of the team while battling his own personal demons and the harpy that appears to haunt him and Wes. When the sponsor pulls out, Dominic moves to Liam’s team, betraying Wes.
Henri Giroud arrives at the TV4 offices to learn he’s been fired from the commentary team, to be replaced by his colleague Roland Petitcourt. The next day. Giroud overcomes his misery and drives back to the Paris suburbs in search of a lost book that means something special to him. He recalls a childhood on a farm, being given a copy of The Fastest Man Alive by his father who had been to see the Tour de France. After his father leaves years later, Giroud becomes a passionate cycling fan. When his mother dies, he sells the farm and moves to Paris to enter higher education. Finding the book in his possessions, he begins to finally read it, and eventually writes the gonzo article that lands him a writing job for pretentious cycling magazine Cahiers du Cyclisme. In 1979 he donates a large sum of money to a bicycle race, and is amused to discover he’s expected to commentate over it too.
Susan awakes not knowing how long she’s been asleep. She has missed a week of work, and become lost in a profound sense of nothingness as a result of alcohol withdrawal.
In 2011, Dominic arrives in Girona and finds himself forced to participate in team-building exercises. In 1987, Henri tells Maude she can date other men.