The race for the Lanterne Rouge

I usually keep more track of this than I have. But here, at the second rest day, seems like as good a time as any to take a look at it. As of right now, Dan McLay of Team Fortuneo-Oscaro, is sitting last man in the general classification by 8 minutes 19 seconds. To look at that you might not think it is close, but time gaps at the back are much different than time gaps at the front. With some big mountain stages to come, and some serious time to lose, the Lanterne Rouge is very much up for grabs.

Second to McLay, or second last depending on how you look at it, is fellow Briton, Luke Rowe, of Team Sky. He was in last for a while but a bad day for McLay on Sunday’s stage 15 moved him into that infamous position. He had rolled into Le Puy-en-Velay almost twelve minutes behind the next nearest man.

Finishing last at the Tour is no shame though. Finishing the Tour at all is a superb achievement and thus far 23 have abandoned. And those down at the rear end of things tend to be men who do a lot of work earlier in stages. Rowe is the perfect example. He’s one of the first men on the Sky train when controlling a break. He pulls for hour upon hour at the front of the bunch for Chris Froome before moving aside to recover for tomorrow. That amounts to a lot of time loss in GC, but it doesn’t matter.

Still, if you’re down there you might as well go for it. There’s some decent publicity in finishing as Lanterne Rouge at the Tour. And it can even lead to invites to some lucrative post-Tour crits. So while there is no official prize for it, it’s always interesting to follow.

And should Rowe find a way to overhaul McLay, and should Chris Froome win the Tour, would they become the first duo from the same team to do the first-last double?

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