Tu quoi ? A quick guide to Tour de France vocab

Tu quoi ? A quick guide to Tour de France vocab

If you’ve been watching the coverage of the Tour de France, you’ll have noticed a lot of French terms that have slipped into the general cycling vocabulary. Unless you parlez francais, or are already up on the lingo, you might find it a bit of a mystery! So here’s our guide to some of the terms, to help you join in the fun and shout “allez allez” at the telly as the riders struggle up those mountains.

Allez – go! An encouragement to cycle faster, often many allez in a row!

Baroudeur – a warrior, these are the guys who break away from the peloton (see peloton!) in pursuit of a sole win, or perhaps just to show off a bit.

Chapeau – well done/congratulations, a mark of respect.’Tipping your hat’, chapaeu literally translates as hat.

Directeur Sportif – This is the person in the team car who is in charge of tactics… yes there are tactics!

Domestique – A team rider who gophers around to protect the team leader and bring them drinks.

Echelon – A cycling formation used in cross winds where riders do not sit directly behind each other, favouring instead to ride slightly to one side, to guard themselves from the wind. Just feel sorry for the riders on the outside acting as wind breaks.

Flamme Rouge – The red flag which tells the riders there is just one kilometre left to the finish line. Allez, allez, allez!

Grimpeur – a climb specialist, good legs for hills.

Grupetto – the last group on the road, not ideal!

Hors categorie – a climb which is very long and very steep – it’s beyond categorisation. Best to be a grimpeur if you are to do well here.

Lanterne Rouge – oh dear… you are in last place.It means ‘red lantern’ which refers to the red lantern hung on the rear on a railway train.

La Tête de la course – hurrah, you are in the lead on the road. Chapeau!

Peloton – The largest group of riders… simple!

Puncheur – a rider who is an expert in short punchy climbs, don’t mess with these guys.

Rouleur – an all round rider, but more suited to flat time trials than hills. Beware of their speed on the flat.

Soigneur – the folks at the side of the route that ensure that riders are kept fuelled and happy.

Souplesse – pedalling with deftness and agility, excellent technique sir!

Hopefully that gives you a good start, but while we are guiding you through the Nuances of le Tour, do you know what the different colours jerseys mean? Everyone knows the yellow one right… what about green?!



Yellow – maillot jaune – the overall leader of the race so far. It’s awarded after each stage to the rider who is in the overall lead by total time.

Green – maillot vert – the sprinter’s jersey. Points are awarded during sprint stages to the 10 or 25 riders over the line. The rider with the most points at the end the day gets the green jersey.

White with Red dots – ‘King of the mountains’. Like the sprints, points are awarded to the first rider to reach the top of specific hills and mountains. Most points get you the jersey.

White – The fastest overall rider under the age of 25.

So there you have it, you can now impress your friends by knowing exactly what the commentators are on about!If you are feeling inspired to get out on your road bike, make sure it’s in tip top roadworthiness by booking it in with us for a service. Then you can go from Lanterne rouge to Tête de la course, entirely justifying the yellow jersey you bought last year!

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