Lawson Craddock is Paris-bound as the Lanterne Rouge of the 2018 Tour de France. The Texan is the first American to hold the honor and the only rider to have occupied the final spot on the general classification for the duration of the entire three week race. Bicycling examines the history of the informal title and how Craddock came to occupy it.
It’s not an achievement Craddock wanted when the race started on July 7. Craddock’s job was to support team leader Rigoberto Uran, second overall last year, particularly in the crucial team time trial early in the first week. But those plans quickly came apart in the Stage 1 feed zone, when an errant water bottle took out Craddock’s front wheel and sent him crashing down hard with a broken shoulder. He finished dead last on the day, grimacing through sweat, blood dripping from a gash on his left eyebrow. But he finished.
And every day since then, at first heavily bandaged and unable to even stand up on the bike, he finished. On Stage 3, the team time trial, he even put in a few pulls and did the work he had been brought to do. He survived the crucible of Stage 9’s jarring cobblestones, which saw Uran crash and eventually drop out three days later from lingering injuries. But Craddock kept fighting, and finishing.
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