Gatto the Cat and Contador the Accountant

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.

59 thoughts on “Gatto the Cat and Contador the Accountant”

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

  2. 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!

  3. 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!)

  4. 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)

  5. 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

    • 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”.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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).

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

    • 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.

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

  13. 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….

    • 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…

      • 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”.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 😀 …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.

  17. Love those Russian names.

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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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