This is a great read, not lasting much more than 1 1/2 flights to or from Paphos. The Lanterne Rouge (named after the red light on the back of a train) is the unofficial award for the last rider in the Tour de France, and ultimately the last rider to finish. Last – but they still finished the TdF!
Max Leonard’s researched the history of this strange honour, from the mysterious early days of the race through to the modern professional era.
There are some fantastic tales of these rider’s endeavour, including a great interview with Jacky Durand who in 1999 became the only rider to receive both the Lanterne Rouge and the Prix de la Combativite (the award for the most combative rider). As far as I could tell he simply went for the breakaway every time – death or glory!
There are also some fascinating insights into what it means to not give up. And of course some inevitable and depressing stories of drug taking and general skulduggery! Jacky Durand himself admitted to doping.
Not sure what it tells you about triathlon but it’s definitely worth a read next time you’re headed out on camp.