Defining Panache

Thomas Voeckler Tour de France

Cycling borrows many French words and for many maillot jaune, peloton and other terms have been absorbed into English, just like blonde or savoir-faire. But panache is an elusive word that’s harder to define. Maybe you know it when you see it?

Typically a rider with panache is said to be one who attacks, displaying courage and flair. But the surprise factor counts and a rider who wins too often can lose this label.

But where does the word come from and what does it mean?

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Lexicon of cycling terms

Vive le tour

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.

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How to pronounce Jens Voigt

The pro peloton might just be a collection of gaunt men with short hair but it’s an international thing, with riders from all over the world and one aspect of this is a broad range of languages, accents and names. Despite being a pro for 13 seasons now, Jens Voigt still sees his name massacred … Read more