Oscar Gatto won the Dwars Door Vlaanderen race this week unleashing several “Gatto pounces” headlines. No doubt he was feline good after purring on the power to claw his way past Thomas Voeckler. Why the cat puns? Gatto is Italian for a cat.
Many riders have names that might sound foreign and even exoticbut in their native language they are nouns and come loaded with meaning. For example contador is Spanish for accountant, probably the last word you think of when the swashbuckling Spaniard is launching his aggressive attacks.
Here’s a look at some of the names in the peloton.
Valerio Agnoli – Valerio Angels
Yukiya Arashiro – Yukiya Newcastle
Lars Boom – Lars Tree
Tom Boonen – Tom Beans
Borut Božič – Borut Christmas
Gerald Ciolek – Gerald Numpty
Alberto Contador – Alberto Accountant
Arnaud Démare – Arnaud Accelerate
John Degenkolb – John Swordpiston
Joe Dombrowski – Joe Oaky
Samuel Dumoulin – Samuel Millar
Romain Feillu – Romain Leafy
Jakob Fuglsang – Jakob Birdsgong
Oscar Gatto – Oscar Cat
Jacopo Guarnieri – Jacopo Gaskets
Marcel Kittel – Marcel Labcoat
Koen de Kort – Koen The Short
Karsten Kroon – Karsten Crown
Bjorn Leukemans – Bjorn Niceguy
Tiago Machado – Tiago Axe
Davide Malacarne – David Badmeats
Adriano Malori – Adriano Illnesses
Przemyslaw Niemiec – Przemyslaw German
Mikel Nieve – Mikel Snow
Anthony Roux – Anthony Redhead
Jérémy Roy – Jérémy King
Michele Scarponi – Michele Boots
Jurgen Van den Broeck – Jurgen of the Bridge
Steele Von Hoff – Steele of the Farmyard
Marianne Vos – Marianne Fox
These are just a selection largely from the World Tour teams and a little bit of licence has been taken, for example du moulin means “of the mill” but someone who is from a mill is a miller, no? The same with Ciolek, the Milan-Sanremo winner is German but the name is of Polish origins and ciołek apparently means an idiot… but it’s also the word for a bullock and a small town too.
There are many more, especially with the Dutch because for years nobody in the Netherlands had a family name. It was only in 1811 that Napoleon annexed the country and ordered everyone to have a first name and surname. People adopted all sorts of names, often related to their work or physical characteristics.
But if the names are longstanding, the meaning lives on and they are still used to generate many a headline.