Do you speak cycling? Tour de France lingo features fries, potatoes and lanterns

As Tour de France riders continue their three-week odyssey, some are wondering which cyclist will emerge as the race’s new “patron.”

And, of course, who will be the “lanterne rouge” when the race reaches its finish in Nice on July 21.

Before that, some top contenders will probably “go through the window.”

“Baroudeurs” will launch solo raids, “punchers” will be on the attack and some riders might be tempted to “turn the lights on.”

Make any sense? Probably not, unless you’re a dedicated fan accustomed to hearing cycling jargon.

Here’s a quick glossary to some of the Tour’s more significant and colorful French expressions.

ALLUMER LES PHARES: “Turning the lights on” — Used to describe a rider suspected of taking doping substances before a stage, hence the strange flash in his eyes.

AVOIR LA FRITE: “Having the french fry” — A classic expression used to describe a rider in great shape, capable of making big moves, and responding to others’ attacks.

BAROUDEUR: “Fighter” — A rider capable of launching long-range attacks and staying ahead of the chasing peloton.

CHASSE-PATATES: Literally, to “chase potatoes.” It’s used to describe a rider who attacks after the breakaway group at the front has already pulled away. He then finds himself sandwiched between two groups.

CHAUDIERE: “Hot water heater” — A doped rider.

DOMESTIQUE: “Servant” — A rider dedicated to helping his team leader. The most talented of the domestiques often go on to become leaders in their own right. Or sometimes team leaders can be relegated, as was the case in the 2018 Tour with four-time champion Chris Froome relegated to a “super domestique” role in aid of teammate Geraint Thomas, who won that year.

FLAMME ROUGE: “Red flame” — The triangular red banner hanging over the road signaling the final kilometer of each stage.

GRAND TOUR: — The term used to describe the three major three-week stage races: the Tour, the Giro d’Italia and the Spanish Vuelta.

GRUPPETTO: “Small Group” — An Italian word describing the group of cyclists dropped by the main pack riding together at the back of the race. In French, they are called the “autobus.”

LANTERNE ROUGE: “Red Lantern” — The last rider in the overall standings.

LE PATRON: “The boss” — The most influential rider in the peloton who often has the decisive word on any issues that arise.

PASSER PAR LA FENETRE: “Going through the window” — This expression describes a rider getting dropped and losing ground very quickly after a rival, or the peloton, accelerates.

PUNCHEUR: “Puncher” — A rider who can open up a big gap quickly on hilly terrain.

SOIGNEUR: “Rider’s aid” — Someone in charge of taking care of a rider’s every need: Massage therapist, finish line care, etc.

SUCER LA ROUE: “Suck someone’s wheel” — Used to describe a rider refusing to go in front and protect a rival from the wind, staying just behind instead and conserving his energy.

SUIVEUR: “Follower” — The term used to describe journalists and other workers who follow the Tour.


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