Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tour de France: Lanterne Rouge

Not everyone can win le tour, so how to make your mark in its history? Of course you can take a stage victory, or earn the sprinters green jersey, the mountain specialists polkadot jersey, or the white one for the best cyclist under 25. But If you aren't good enough to do that? Don't despair, there's always "la lanterne rouge", the red lantern.
It refers to the rider who finishes last but still makes it to the end of the race in Paris. The name comes from the red light on the last wagon of a train. Although it is not an official award, it is part of the culture and has its own history.

This years lanterne rouge, the belgian Wim Vansevenant, "defended" his title from last year. In 2005 he was "beaten" by Iker Flores, who carried on a family tradition. His brother Igor was the lanterne rouge in 2002.

Here's a snippet from wikipedia about the last stage in 2004:

"Shortly after Simeoni's first attack, Jimmy Casper, the lanterne rouge, or last place rider, made an attack, shooting out ahead of Armstrong. Having gotten his lead, he removed a digital camera from the pocket of his jersey and snapped a picture of him leading Armstrong, then dropped back to the peloton. 2004 is the second year that Casper has finished the Tour de France, and the second year he won the lanterne rouge."

Some have gone to great lengths to secure the title, including hiding on the last day, others do anything to avoid it. At times there was also a financial reward, since the lanterne rouge was payed to start in smaller races after the tour. I guess the reasoning behind that is "if you can beat the last guy of le tour, you could have been in it". Not entirely true, of course.

In honor of "la lanterne rouge" I post this several days after the finish of Tour de France. ;)

(Listening to while posting: Karlheinz Stockhausen - Kontakte)

1 comment:

LS said...

- Vilken fisk forlorade loppet?
- Rödingen!

(I have figured out how to make Swedish letters on the blog, yeah!
ö is Alt+0246
å is Alt+0229
ä is Alt+0228
Suddenly I don't feel so hampered by this QWERTY keyboard.)