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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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Duluth Baptist Clydesdale Friday, 22 March 2013, 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 Friday, 22 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 5:22 am

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

  • lucky Friday, 22 March 2013, 6:21 pm

    haha Adriano Illnesses

  • Juanpablo Friday, 22 March 2013, 6:24 pm

    Pablo Lechuga – Paul Lettuce

  • Víctor Friday, 22 March 2013, 6:39 pm

    Andrey Amador= lover

  • cgb Friday, 22 March 2013, 6:43 pm

    Dmitry Gruzdev – Dmitry Milk Mushroom

  • InTheGC Friday, 22 March 2013, 7:50 pm

    Poor Gerald Ciolek.

  • Jcox bar Friday, 22 March 2013, 7:51 pm

    Old Skool – Pedro Delgado = Skinny Pete

  • Dave Friday, 22 March 2013, 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 Friday, 22 March 2013, 9:48 pm

    Mario Cipollini = Mario little onions

    Domenico Pozzovivo = Sunday Live Well , literally

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 22 March 2013, 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 Friday, 22 March 2013, 11:33 pm

        LOL in a big way.

      • Simon Saturday, 23 March 2013, 7:38 am

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

  • Dave Friday, 22 March 2013, 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 Friday, 22 March 2013, 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 Friday, 22 March 2013, 11:57 pm

    Cool list.

    Jurgen van den Broeck is actually Jurgen of the Trousers

    What about
    Theo Forest
    Sebastian Longfield
    Wilco Cellarman

    • AK Saturday, 23 March 2013, 12:12 am

      Great minds think alike!

  • AK Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 12:14 am

    Christian van de Velde – Christian of the Fields

    • Paul Jakma Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 12:23 am

    Bradley Hairdresser…?

    • Anonymous Saturday, 23 March 2013, 1:17 am

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

  • sn Saturday, 23 March 2013, 1:45 am

    Tom Boonen = Mr Bean? who knew?

    • Scotty Saturday, 23 March 2013, 10:12 am

      quote of the day! thank you 😉

  • Barbara Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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. Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 10:36 am

      Johnny Higherland

  • JohnS Saturday, 23 March 2013, 11:12 am

    Robert Wagner = Bob Cartwright

  • JohnS Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 2:00 pm

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

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 23 March 2013, 2:08 pm

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

  • Ask M Saturday, 23 March 2013, 2:31 pm

    Brian Vandborg = Brian Water Castle

    J. Fuglesang should be “Birdsong”

  • Christian Saturday, 23 March 2013, 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 Saturday, 23 March 2013, 4:58 pm

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

  • Kris Westwood Saturday, 23 March 2013, 11:28 pm

    Nobody mentioned Greg The World …

  • beev Sunday, 24 March 2013, 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 Sunday, 24 March 2013, 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 Monday, 25 March 2013, 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 Sunday, 24 March 2013, 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 Monday, 1 April 2013, 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 Sunday, 24 March 2013, 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 Sunday, 24 March 2013, 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 Monday, 25 March 2013, 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 Monday, 25 March 2013, 12:46 pm

    Love those Russian names.

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

  • JohnS Monday, 25 March 2013, 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 Wednesday, 27 March 2013, 10:58 am

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

  • Anonymous Thursday, 28 March 2013, 2:15 am

    How about 2008 Tour winner Chuck Tailor.

    • Anonymous Thursday, 28 March 2013, 2:18 am

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

  • Papuass Thursday, 28 March 2013, 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 Monday, 1 April 2013, 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.