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Froome, Wiggins, Merckx, LeMond - we know the winners but what about the men who finish last?

lanterne rouge:
French / noun

1. The red lantern that hangs on the rear of a train
2. The competitor who finishes last in the Tour de France

If you complete a bike race of over 3,000 kilometres, overcoming mountain ranges and merciless weather conditions while enduring physical and psychological agony, in the slowest time, should you be branded the loser? What if your loss helped a teammate win? What if others lacked the determination to finish? What if you were trying to come last?

Froome, Wiggins, Merckx we know the winners of the Tour de France, but Lanterne Rouge tells the forgotten, often inspirational and occasionally absurd stories of the last-placed rider. We learn of stage winners and former yellow jerseys who tasted life at the other end of the bunch; the breakaway leader who stopped for a bottle of wine and then took a wrong turn; the doper whose drug cocktail accidently slowed him down and the rider who was recognised as the most combative despite finishing at the back.

Lanterne Rouge flips the Tour de France on its head and examines what these stories tell us about ourselves, the 99% who don’t win the trophy, and forces us to re-examine the meaning of success, failure and the very nature of sport.

Reviews

Excellent ... compulsive reading...redresses the balance with considerable literary style and panache.

The Washing Machine Post

Don't be surprised if you fall in love with Max Leonard's book. A glorious celebration of coming last.

Brendan Gallagher, thetour.co.uk

Thoughtful, properly researched and consistently entertaining

Tim Moore

[A] lively account of largely forgotten men... It’s not easy to come up with an original angle on Le Tour, but with this rear view Leonard has managed the feat in style

Simon Redfern, Independent on Sunday

Brilliant... The stories of the lanternes rouges that Leonard picks out have real value, because the race's rear view can tell you much more than the angle we're all familiar with

Michael Hutchinson, Independent

Makes for oddly inspiring reading. There is an art to losing

Jon Day, London Review of Books

An elegant book... Surprising and illuminating

Ian Bell, Herald

This is a valuable book with some great stories. Deeply-researched and well-written, it’s an enjoyable read that shouldn’t be rushed

The Inner Ring

Fascinating… Without losers, there are no winners

London Cyclist

Thoughtful, witty

Times Literary Supplement

In this lively, rear-view account of largely unsung heroes, and a few villains, Leonard has managed the difficult feat of coming up with an original angle on Le Tour

Simon Redfern, Independent on Sunday

Leonard extracts the dignity that sometimes exists in sporting failure; this is not the world of Armstrong, Keane or Pietersen and all the more appealing because of that

Tim Lewis, Observer

Celebratory and hilarious in equal measures, The Last Man revels in the travails of the underdog

Ben East, Metro

This book does a great job of revealing some of the less well known stories from le Tour: well written, entertaining, and informative

Richard Peploe, Road

This book is an entertaining account taking in everyone from stage winners and former yellow jerseys who couldn’t hang on, to a breakaway leader who stopped for a bottle of wine and then took a wrong turn, to a doper whose drug cocktail backfired

Bike Radar

We know the winners of the Tour de France, but Lanterne Rouge tells the forgotten, often inspirational and occasionally absurd stories of the last-placed rider

Miss Dinky

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780224092005

    June 15, 2015

    Yellow Jersey

    272 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781448155903

    April 17, 2014

    Vintage Digital

    272 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Max Leonard

Higher Calling

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French Revolutions
Van Gogh's Ear
A Country Road, A Tree
An Officer and a Spy
Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal
How I Won the Yellow Jumper
Put Me Back On My Bike
The 7th Function of Language
The Man and His Bike
Flaneuse