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He who comes last takes longest

25 Jul 09 | Re: Dubious sporting honour

Arguably the greatest sporting event of all, the Tour de France, is nearing its thrilling conclusion. The winner is all but decided, but one of the great things about the Tour is that there are lots of smaller competitions to follow besides the overall standings - stage wins, the King of the Mountains, and so on.

Even the last-placed rider overall gets an honour of sorts - the Lanterne Rouge. You can read all about it in this excellent blog, which is a lot more respectful than the BBC texters yesterday who said the LR should have to ride a bike with a shopping basket on it.

The Lanterne Rouge is a bit like the wooden spoon in the Six Nations, except that earning it is in fact quite an achievement. The Tour is so arduous that finishing at all is far beyond most people, and the lower-placed riders are often doing valuable work supporting the rest of their team. So, much better than turning up in blue shirts and losing five games of rugby.

PS There’s a track cycling event that we call the Pursuit. In Spanish, it’s called the Persecución.

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