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.
Wu-oh. Floyd Landis had “an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone ratio” in his blood after stage 17 of the Tour de France. If his backup sample also tests positive, the title could be taken from him. You may remember stage 17 as the scene of Landis’ remarkable comeback. Cyclingnews.com says that “some athletes have naturally high levels, and can prove this through a series of tests”…is it possible that Landis was just super amped up from the effort that day?
The science of Lance Armstrong. Between 1992 and 1999, he increased his muscle efficiency by 8 percent, a gain previously thought to be impossible.