Cycling borrows many words from European languages, especially French, Italian and Dutch. Here’s a list of the most commonly used ones. Some are so widespread that English speakers use them but others might appear when you’re watching a race on TV, perhaps an on-screen caption. Whilst I’ve put the translations below, you might want to look up the English meanings if you don’t know your yellow jersey from your pink jersey etc. The list isn’t exhaustive so please email in any additions or leave a comment below.
A copy of these words will be listed via the “Lexicon” link at the top of the page for ready reference.
|A bloc||Full gas|
|Achtervolgers||“chasers”, riders trying to reach another group ahead of them|
|Autobus||group of riders at the back in a mountain stage who collaborate to finish in time|
|Aankomst||arrival, the finish line|
|Ardennes||hilly Ardennes region of Belgium|
|Bas côté||unpaved sides of a road|
|Baroudeur||courageous rider compensating moderate ability by combative riding|
|Bordure||formed when riders adopt an echelon formation in a crosswind|
|Bosse||“bump”, a short hill|
|Chasse patate||“potato hunting”, when a rider is trying to bridge across from the bunch to the lead group|
|Cima Coppi||prize awarded for the first to the top the highest mountain pass in the Tour of Italy|
|Classic||prestigious one day race that has been staged for many years|
|Contre la montre||“against the watch”, a time trial race|
|La Doyenne||“old lady”, the nickname of the Liège–Bastogne–Liège race|
|Départ fictif||symbolic start point of race|
|Départ réel||actual point when the racing begins after the neutralised procession ends|
|Directeur sportif||Team manager|
|Domestique||“servant”, a rider tasked with helping a team leader|
|Dorsales||Race numbers pinned to the jersey|
|Enfer du nord||“Hell of the North”, nickname of the Paris-Roubaix race|
|Etape reine||Queen stage, the crucial mountain stage in a race|
|Flamme rouge||“red flame”, the red kit symbol signalling 1km to the finish|
|Flahute||a tough rider, usually from Flanders or Northern France|
|Fringale||a state of hypoglycaemia, the blood sugar falls and a rider runs out of energy|
|Grand boucle||“big loop / buckle”, a nickname of the Tour de France|
|Groupe de tête||lead group in a race|
|Grimpeur||a “climber”, a rider suited to riding in the mountains|
|Gruppo compatto||“compact group”, when the bunch absords any breakaways and all the main riders are back together|
|Hellingen||“ramps”, the term used to describe the short but steep climbs of Flanders|
|Hors délai||Outside the cut-off time|
|Jour sans||“day without”, when a rider as an off day in a stage race, conceding time to rivals|
|Kermesse||a village festival where often a bike race is included|
|Kinderkopjes||child heads, see “kasseien”|
|Kop van de wedstrijd||Head of the race, the front group|
|Lanterne rouge||“red light”, the name given to the last rider on the overall classification|
|Lekke band||see “crevaison”|
|Lombardia||a northern region of Italy around Milan|
|Maglia rose||Pink jersey|
|Maillot jaune||Yellow jersey|
|Maillot vert||Green jersey|
|Maillot à pois||Polka dot jersey|
|Monument||one of the five most prestigious one day races of the year|
|Mur||“wall”, a steep climb|
|Omloop||circuit or race|
|Passista||rider capable of fast riding on the flat|
|Peloton||“platoon”, the main pack or bunch of riders|
|Pendenza||gradient or slope|
|Puncheur||rider capable of frequent attacks|
|Primavera||“spring”, the nickname of the Milan-Sanremo race|
|Prime||bonus payment, often awarded at a set point in the race|
|Prix Henri Desgrange||prize awarded to the first to the top the highest mountain pass in the Tour de France|
|Ronde||“round”, circular route for a race or a tour|
|Service course||a team’s headquarters and base|
|Strade bianche||“white roads”, unsealed dust roads in rural Italy|
|Vive le tour||Long live the tour|
|Vlaanderen||the Flanders region of Belgium|
|Voiture balai||broom wagon, the last vehicle in a race, it “sweeps up” any dropped riders|
|Voiture neutre||neutral service vehicle|
Comments on this entry are closed.
Bezemwagen , see “Voiture balai”
fuga see echappée
volata bunch sprint
crisi see jour sans (I heard it also from sporza tv)
Lasterketa burua see kop van wedstrijd in basque countries (san sebastian/donostia)
risico hard to preview, incert ending
oyy oyy oy oy oy attention or crucial point of a race
only because I love too the technical words of my bfavourite sport
Dossard rouge – red race number, the ‘most agressive rider’ award worn each day in the TdF
L’écart – time gap
Hors delais – disqualified for being outside the time limit; the limit depends on the first rider’s time and the difficulty of the stage.
Tour de taille – a yearly struggle for amateur cyclists 😉
1) Giro di…
3) God Verdomme (used more than the F word in some circles), hahahahaha
Wegkapitein / roadcaptain
ventaglio selection through a disposition of the peloton in windy races
Thanks, bedankt, merci and grazie for all the suggestions. This post will drop off the screen in time but I’m editing the list kept under the “Lexicon” link at the top of the page.
Just thinking it would be fun to have a “(language)” after the words in the lexicon, to tell which language the word comes from!
Something like this:
Riis (Danish) The act of throwing a TT-bike;)
what’s the french word for bonk/hunger-flat/hunger-knock?
Jour sans / fringale = equiv of bonking
Waaier / echelon – When the peloton is hit by a crosswind and falls info smaller groups
Criterium – local races on a short track
Kop over kop – when a small group of riders wants to make a gap with the riders behind them, riding short turns in the wind to keep maximum speed
Maglia RosA, not Rose.
Great stuff though; may I suggest:
Casse pates: (should have a circumflex on the ‘a’ of pates, but can’t find it on the phone): ‘leg breaker’ of a climb. Also the tool for breaking open crab/lobster claws.
Pâte is pasta (or paste, dough among other things), patte is leg… so Casse-pattes (leg-breaker) I would say.
Meta – finish line (Spanish … useful for La Vuelta)
Thanks for all the extra suggestions.
Mike: I can’t believe I put “rose”, must have been thinking in French. “casse patte” literally means “paw breaker”.
Afloper – punctured tire that looses its pressure slowly
Op kousevoeten – When a rider participates in a break but is hardly noticed by the other riders
Dokkeren – technique for riding over the cobblestones
might have missed them, but can’t see coureur or corridori anywhere ……pause trying to think of the belgian term for rider, no its gone, age=memory loss.
Jens Voigt – rider capable of frequent attacks
The correct word in italian for “autobus” is “gruppetto”, not grupetto.
-Testa della corsa= lead group in a race
bordure has been omitted from the permanent lexicon…great list!
some humble suggestions for inclusion:
Crit (see criterium)
Brevet (see Randonnee)
Did you miss Sur La Plaque?