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David L. Stanley

2017 Tour: Luke Rowe—The Bad-ass Lanterne Rouge

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David L StanleyDavid Stanley is an experienced cycling writer. His work has appeared in Velo, Velo-news.com, Road, Peloton, and the late, lamented Bicycle Guide (my favorite all-time cycling magazine). He blogs regularly for Dads Roundtable. Here's his Facebook page. He is also a highly regarded voice artist with many audiobooks to his credit, including McGann Publishing's The Olympics' 50 Craziest Stories and Cycling Heroes. And there is his masterful telling of his bout with skin cancer, "Melanoma: It Started With a Freckle".

 

Stand around the results area after any race and you will hear “Where’d I finish? Dude, I was DFL.”

DFL.

Dead F*&king Last.

DFL in the Tour de France even has a special name; the Lanterne Rouge, after the red lantern that hung off the tail end of the caboose on old French trains.

This year’s Lanterne Rouge is Luke Rowe. Luke Rowe, a tough-as-nails Welshman on race winner Chris Froome’s Team Sky, is as bad-ass a bike racer as one can find.

One hundred and ninety-eight of the world’s finest athletes started the 2017 Tour de France on July 02 in Dusseldorf. One hundred and sixty-seven made it to Paris.

Crashes, illness, exhaustion, and disqualifications waylaid the other thirty-one.
Luke Rowe was number 167. The toughest of the tough. Luke Rowe was on the team to work for his captain, Chris Froome. Keep him out of the wind. Act as a bodyguard when things got dodgy. Sit at the front of the field for 100 kilometers setting the pace for the field. Chasing down breakaways that featured riders dangerous to Froome’s lead. Do the day’s dirty work, and then make damn certain to make the time cut.

200 kilometers a day. Over the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Massif, the Vosges and the Jura. Across the plains at warp speed.

Every day for 20 days.

Ever the worker, on the very last stage, 30 km from the finish on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Froome took yet another bike change. Who was waiting to pace the maillot jaune back to the peloton?

Luke Rowe.

Always a workhorse. Rarely the race horse.

150th in the world is damn good1. Better than damn good.

Luke Rowe

Luke Rowe has the horses to win an important race. Here he crosses the line alone in stage two of the 2017 Herald Sun Tour.

You, or your kids, are certainly familiar with Lois Lowry’s classic novel The Giver. The 150th best-selling book of all time, according to the American Booksellers Association.

Does the name Eric Schmidt sound familiar? He’s the chairman of Google. He’s worth nine billion dollars. That makes him the world’s 150th wealthiest individual, according to Forbes Magazine.

You’re a cycling fan, you know Credit Agricole, right? The world’s 150th most highly valued corporation, according to the Financial Times.

150th in the world is better than you might think.

Everything that Tour team leaders do: Froome, Rigoberto Uran(Drapac-Cannondale), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) Luke Rowe does.

You might not know that in the cobbled Spring Classics, Luke Rowe is one of the world’s most promising riders. The 27 year old from Cardiff was one of the world’s top track cyclists as a younger man – he won national titles and stood near the top steps in the World Championships. In the last three seasons, he has become one of the world’s finest cobbled Classics racers, with top ten results in the world’s toughest one-day Spring races.

If Luke Rowe doesn’t hoist a trophy in a major Classic in the next spring or two, I will be shocked. He’s there, he’s ready, he’s battle-tested. He’s among the world’s finest bike racers in the spring classics, yet so damn tough that he can ride with very best in the three week Grand Tours.

Picture World Champion 400 meter superstar Michael Johnson, at his peak, running a couple of 2:40 marathons every week for three weeks in July and then sprinting to a 43.9 the next spring. That’d be damn tough, too.

Luke Rowe – DFL. Let’s change that to DFB. Dead F*%king Bad-ass.

1.The Swiss Reto Hollenstein (Katusha-Alpecin) slotted into 150th place on GC. It was tough enough to find Top 150 lists. No way was I going to search out top 167 lists.


David Stanley, like nearly all of us, has spent his life working and playing outdoors. He got a case of Melanoma as a result. Here's his telling of his beating that disease. And when you go out, please put on sunscreen.

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