Last place in the Tour de France  JUL 29 2008

The last man to finish the Tour de France gets the unofficial title of winner of the Lanterne Rouge. Finishing last is not as easy as you might suppose.

The designation falls somewhere between insult and accolade. Mr. Vansevenant, who after Stage 18 sits in 150th place, some 3 hours and 45 minutes behind Mr. Sastre, is indeed the worst-placed rider in the Tour de France. But, in turn, he has outlasted those who abandoned the Tour through illness, injury or simple exhaustion; those who were eliminated for failing to finish within each day's time limit and are forced to withdraw; and those who were banned or withdrew for doping-related causes. From year to year, about 20% of the riders drop out. In other words, you can't simply coast to last place; you have to work for it.

Wim Vansevenant did hang on to become the first three-time winner of the Lanterne Rouge.

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