Gatto the Cat and Contador the Accountant

Friday, 22 March 2013

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.

Duluth Baptist Clydesdale March 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm

John Degenkolb is John Swordpiston? That’s not mundane–that’s awesome. I think I have a new favorite rider.

The Inner Ring March 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm

It’s from two nouns, Degen (like the word “dagger” English) and Kolb but you can translate them in other ways. Swordpiston just comes out best, no?

AK March 23, 2013 at 12:16 am

Wouldn’t that just be a sheath in English? My German is a bit rusty but I think a degenkolb is the thing you store a sword (rapier?) in.

GluteCramp March 23, 2013 at 5:22 am

He should get that done up as artwork and put on his bike… Or tattooed…

lucky March 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm

haha Adriano Illnesses

Juanpablo March 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Pablo Lechuga – Paul Lettuce

Víctor March 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Andrey Amador= lover

cgb March 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Dmitry Gruzdev – Dmitry Milk Mushroom

InTheGC March 22, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Poor Gerald Ciolek.

Jcox bar March 22, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Old Skool – Pedro Delgado = Skinny Pete

Dave March 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Not forgetting the legend that is Fausto Tiles, or his fellow Italian from the 80s, Guido Good Times…and Macro Marshes – whatever happened to him? Then there’s Gianni Beehive…

The Italians seem to have cornered the market here!

edward taylor March 22, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Mario Cipollini = Mario little onions

Domenico Pozzovivo = Sunday Live Well , literally

The Inner Ring March 22, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Cipollini is shallots.

As for Pozzovivo, here is cycling writer Daniel Friebe via Twitter:
@friebos: A few years ago Pozzovivo changed his name by deed poll from “Puzzovivo” which, very approximately translated, means “Lively stink”.

Mary Topping March 22, 2013 at 11:33 pm

LOL in a big way.

Simon March 23, 2013 at 7:38 am

Or, if you interpret it another way, “Little Onions.” Odd name for the greatest lover in the world…

Dave March 22, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Just realised that reverse translation via google fails completely with these!
Fausto Tiles – Fausto Coppi
Guido Good Times – Guido Bontempi
Macro Marshes – Marco Pantani
Gianni Beehive – Gianni Bugno
Darin Cioni – Dario Pigeons (fancy that!)

Mary Topping March 22, 2013 at 11:37 pm

I LOVE this post. So creative, and I love how everyone is adding their own names. Kudos to all.

Alejandro Valverde = Alejandro of the Green Valley (maybe he and Tom Beans have a connection through the Green Giant)

Zueco March 22, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Cool list.

Jurgen van den Broeck is actually Jurgen of the Trousers

What about
Theo Forest
Sebastian Longfield
Wilco Cellarman

AK March 23, 2013 at 12:12 am

Great minds think alike!

AK March 23, 2013 at 12:11 am

Nice post!
Van den Broeck is not related to the word ‘brug’, which means bridge. Broek means pants, but it is also an ancient word for a piece of of land, which is where the name comes from. Some more Dutch:
Langeveld: Long field
Bos: Forest (note he’s in a team with Tree)
Kelderman: Basementman
Slagter: Butcher
Zoetemelk: Sweet Milk

Paul Jakma March 23, 2013 at 12:14 am

Christian van de Velde – Christian of the Fields

Paul Jakma March 23, 2013 at 9:09 am

Thinking about it, “Christian from the Fields” is probably the more correct translation, than the literal one.

Ditto what others have said on van den Broeck, to modern ears it sounds like “of the Trousers”.

patterson_hood March 23, 2013 at 12:23 am

Bradley Hairdresser…?

Anonymous March 23, 2013 at 1:17 am

Slagter is butcher…brilliant…….tom the butcher. Gotta love that . Please tell me theres a postman out there (preferably pat)

Anonymous March 23, 2013 at 9:58 am

Peter Post was a rider and also DS for a long time.

sn March 23, 2013 at 1:45 am

Tom Boonen = Mr Bean? who knew?

Scotty March 23, 2013 at 10:12 am

quote of the day! thank you 😉

Barbara March 23, 2013 at 1:59 am

Before 1811 a lot of people in the Netherlands already had a family-name. It was only by Napoleon law that it became a legal obligation.

GO March 23, 2013 at 3:22 am

Don’t even think english or american rider names won’t sound silly tanslated to other languages.
Bradley Standpauke
Lance Armstark

Larry T. March 23, 2013 at 8:38 am

Fun bit! Reminds of back-in-the day when Ivan Gotti was leading the Giro d’Italia. A group of clients with the outfit we used to work for was on a climb somewhere when a La Gazzetta dello Sport reporter noticed them. He wrote they spoke a LOT about cats. Why? Instead of saying “Go-tee” as the name is pronounced, they were saying “God-ee” as the US mobster’s name was butchered in America, which to the Italian sportswriter sounded like “gatti” as in your Oscar example. A few years before this my wife had endless arguments with those who talked of “Chee-a-poochie”… while asking them if they would like a bottle of “Chee-anty” (Chianti)? It was tough to get them to realize that TV’s Heckel and Jeckel were pretty clueless in this regard.

Martinello March 23, 2013 at 8:59 am

Juan Antonio Flecha and Jakob Piil – two brothers in arms (flecha and pil translating to “arrow” in Spanish and Danish respectively)

balkou March 23, 2013 at 9:43 am

Agnoli as angels, it isn’t accurate. Angels in italian is “angeli”. Don’t know about local dialects but I suspect it isn’t the case.
The same about Guarnieri with gasket. Other Italian translations are spot on though (eg Scarponi, Malacarne).

David N. Welton March 23, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I can confirm this one. Gasket is “guarnizione” and angels is “angeli”. If anything, Agnoli sounds a bit like agnello, which is lamb.

Anders H. Andersen March 23, 2013 at 10:29 am

What about Johnny Hoogerland? That most mean something?

It seems to me that the Danish commentators on Euro Sport tends to talk more about Tom Slagter because they like so say his name … TOM SLAGTER!

Paul Jakma March 23, 2013 at 10:36 am

Johnny Higherland

JohnS March 23, 2013 at 11:12 am

Robert Wagner = Bob Cartwright

JohnS March 23, 2013 at 11:20 am

On the subject of names tailor-made for punning headlines, I give you Vladimir Karpets.

When Vladimir’s suicidal solo break was finally swallowed up by the marauding peloton, Eurosport`commentator David Duffield came out with “It’s curtains for Karpets”. I’m sure he’d had that one saved up for years and was just waiting for the opportunity to use it.

The Inner Ring March 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Karpets is like a small carp, I thought about using it but it’s too indirect a meaning… and is better in English of course.

I’ve heard the “curtains for Karpets” one too. We’ve also had “Karpets on the ground” etc.

unnamed March 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm

•Beñat Intxausti = Bernard Walnut Field
David Etxebarria = David New House
Jonathan Castroviejo = Jonathan Old Fort (Old Castle?)

The Inner Ring March 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Good ones, “Etxe” means “House” or “House of”.

Ask M March 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Brian Vandborg = Brian Water Castle

J. Fuglesang should be “Birdsong”

Christian March 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Bo Hamburger
Bjarne Riis – Bjarne Rice
Rasmus Guldhammer – Rasmus Goldhammer
Frank Høj – Frank High
Brian Holm – Brian Islet
Michael Mørkøv – Michael Dark Practice

The Inner Ring March 23, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Since we have Riis…
Francesco Chicchi – Francesco Grains (as in grains of rice)

Kris Westwood March 23, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Nobody mentioned Greg The World …

beev March 24, 2013 at 8:26 am

spanish is not my first language, but i’m reasonably proficient – well, i’ve never understood the translation for contador! for me an accountant is contable. contador does have some parallels, but imo it is more applicable to “counter” – but not as in bean counter, more water/electric meter. such a translation would still offer up all the necessary copy writer fun….

Bibio March 24, 2013 at 9:56 am

This makes sense as I remember about a year ago on twitter he tweeted a photo of himself pointing to some sort of water meter which had the word ‘contador’ printed on it…

Juanpablo March 25, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I think Contador is a brand but I could be wrong. It’s written on a lot of manhole covers and pipes around Spain.

The Inner Ring March 24, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Yes, it’s someone or something who counts.

But in Latin America “Contador” is the normal word used for an accountant.

Bundle April 1, 2013 at 2:24 am

In fact, Contador used to mean accountant a few centuries ago. Nowadays in some Hispanic American countries it means auditor, whereas in Spain the word has been confined to mean “flux-measuring device”. It all comes from the verb “contar”, meaning to count, but also to tell (as in telling a story, as in French “raconter”). So Steakman’s name could in fact be impeccably translated “Albert Raconteur”.

Trudgin March 24, 2013 at 10:19 am

All very clever but I’m most impressed that inner ring “gets” Numpty. I always thought it a peculiarly Scottish word.

I, for one, will be calling folks Ciolek from now on…. Thanks for that

cthulhu March 24, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Actually Marcel Kittel is Marcel Sausage-Maker.
While Kittels translates to a lab coat in German the name originates from Küttel/Küttler which derives from the word Kutteln which are entrails.

Bundle March 25, 2013 at 10:47 am

😀 …Russian names are hilarious too:

Maxim of the Squirrels (Belkov).

Anton of the Sparrows (Vorbobyev).

Demetrius of the Ants (Muravyev).

..not forgetting the infamous Alexander of the Winemakers, or the Czech (but not Slavic) Roman the Crucifier.

Allez March 25, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Love those Russian names.

What about Francesco Casagrande?
It translates as ‘great house’, so let’s call him ‘Francesco Mansion’.

JohnS March 25, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Does Michel Wuyts read this blog? I’m sure I heard refer to a certain Vacansoleil rider as Jan Anton Piil during the Sporza Gent-Wevelghem coverage.

For all we know he doesn’t read it, he writes it.

Nicolai March 27, 2013 at 10:58 am

Jakob Fuglsang – Jakob Birdsong. Might just be a spelling error.

Anonymous March 28, 2013 at 2:15 am

How about 2008 Tour winner Chuck Tailor.

Anonymous March 28, 2013 at 2:18 am

(He ‘put the boot in’ on Alpe d’Huez that year)

Papuass March 28, 2013 at 11:27 am

Sorry for joining late, some Latvians (some with slavic surnames):

Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) – Gatis The Pretty Boy

Some ex-pros:
Raivis Belohvoščiks – Raivis With The White Tail
Dainis Ozols – Dainis The Oak
Kaspars Ozers – Kaspars The Lake

Anonymous April 1, 2013 at 1:53 am

Always used to joke with my Eastern Euro wife about the many Mr.Hedgehog or Mrs Squirrel or Mr Sparrow in her country but then she used to counter with Mr Pigg, Mr Hare and Mrs Bush …lets face it we all have strange names in every country.

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