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Tour de France 2015: Lanterne Rouge – stage five

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Sebastian Langeveld has endured a challenging season and by finishing last on the Tour’s fifth stage, the Dutchman’s difficulties endured.
Langeveld crossed the line in Amiens some 14.15 behind stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), making him the last man home of a peloton reduced to 189 riders by a further day of crashes.

The rider ahead of him, finishing in 188th place, was his Cannondale-Garmin team’s GC hope, Ryder Hesjedal, and while neither will have been satisfied with such lowly positions – both were caught on the wrong side of a split in the peloton – they can count themselves more fortunate than team-mate Jack Bauer, one of the retirees on a day of racing described by Langeveld on Twitter as “crazy wet and windy”.
The former Dutch road race champion, relieved of his jersey by Niki Terpstra just days before the Tour, has already suffered with wind this season. Blown from his bike in a blustery edition of E3 Harelbeke in April, Langeveld was forced to miss Gent-Wevelgem two days later.
The Tour’s fifth stage was no more forgiving. Bauer crashed out after just 12km in the same accident that ended the hopes of Cofidis leader Nacer Bouhanni, and with Langeveld and Hesjedal finishing last and second-to-last respectively, there was little consolation. Alex Dowsett (Movistar), who had been last home on the cobbled fourth stage, finished one place ahead of Hesjedal.
Today is another day, and Langeveld and his team are likely only to want to avoid further damage before the mountains loom and Hesjedal and leader Andrew Talansky can begin to assert themselves. Dan Martin will have an earlier opportunity, when stage 10 concludes on the wall-like ramp of the Mur de Bretagne.
Last on GC is Orica-GreenEDGE sprinter Michael Matthews, some 58.13 behind race leader Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep after just five stages. The Australian, heavily bandaged after suffering badly in the stage three crash that ended the Tour of then-maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara (Trek), is brave to be riding at all.
His mummified appearance will not have been enhanced by the crimson glow of the lantern rouge, but he typifies the character required even to be last in the Tour de France. Most would have given up and gone home by now. Matthews, and Langeveld for that matter, are made of sterner stuff. We’ll leave a light on for both.

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