No one has tried harder to finish last than American cyclist Lawson Craddock, and no one has got more joy from it.

The 26-year-old should never have finished this year's Tour de France, after fracturing his shoulder blade in a day one crash after hitting a water bottle.

But Craddock would not be broken, enduring "three weeks of pain" to cross the finish line. In the process, he raised a huge amount of money to repair his hometown velodrome in Houston, which had been damaged by a hurricane.

Craddock proudly claimed the unofficial lanterne rouge prize, for finishing last among the 145 riders, when the race was completed in Paris. It was a badge of honour.

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"It's not the Tour I imagined, I wasn't sure I could make it this far. It wasn't easy," said Craddock, who rides for an American team.

Cameras caught blood pouring from Craddock's head after the fall but he turned a personal disaster into victory by donating $100 to the velodrome for every stage he finished.

His Instagram followers quickly took up the challenge, and at last count $285,000 has been raised.

Craddock needed a lot of medical attention every day to complete the Tour, while the fundraising kept his spirits up.

"Almost every day presented a new challenged," said Craddock, who finished four and a half hours behind Welsh winner Geraint Thomas.

"The first few days were incredibly painful, it felt like almost every day something added and something taken away, it was a roller coaster of three weeks.

"Without the fundraiser, I probably would have gone home a couple of weeks ago. I drew a lot of motivation from the campaign.

"I started the Tour in tears of sadness when I crashed the first day, but now it's pure joy."