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Tour de France: Understanding The Lingo


If you have taken interest in Tour de France tours and you find yourself wanting to learn more about the sport and everything that is involved, be sure to check this beginner’s guide to understanding cycling terminology.

Here’s everything you’ll need to know about race tactics, unfamiliar terms and Jersey Colours, before sitting down to watch this year’s tour.

Cycling Lingo you will hear while watching the Tour de France


Abbreviated from Aerodynamics, which is especially vital in the time trial when riders have no wind insulation.


The finish line, or as it translates `You’ve Arrived’.


A water bottle that sits conveniently in an enclosure on the downtube of the bicycle.


A gathering of riders (it could be just one or a group) that has ventured ahead of the main field on a stage.


When a cyclist is totally exhausted, more often than not brought on by a sudden absence of energy, due to a lack of water or food.

‘Bunch Sprint’

When a rather flat stage is decided by a significant gathering of riders, who are sprinting for line honours toward the end.


The rate at which a cyclist can turn their pedals, which is usually measured in revolutions per minute.

‘Chasse Patate’

Cyclists stuck aimlessly between two gatherings may be referred to as being on a 'potato chase' as unflattering as that may sound.


A workhorse or teammate devoted to serving the group leader or sprinter.


Sitting straightforwardly behind a fellow cyclist to minimise wind drag (this being the best way to avoid crosswind, thus conserve energy).


A line or gathering of riders strung out diagonally to evade the influences of crosswind.

‘Feed Zone’

A designated area for the team ‘soigneurs’ to stand and give out packs with nourishment and refreshments for the cyclists.

`Grand Tours’

The collective name for the three major tours in Europe, the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España.

‘Grand Boucle’

Translated `The Big Loop’ which stands for a devoted name for the Tour de France.


The last gathering on the road that unites together, especially on a mountain stage, in a bid to make it to the finish within the time cut.


Abbreviation for General Classification, which is the overall standings in the Tour de France.

‘Hors catégorie’

Otherwise called HC, which stands for the hardest climbs or ascensions (the impossible steep) in the tour, also known as beyond classification.

‘Lanterne Rouge’

Translated 'Red Lantern', it's the name given to the rider who is toward the end in the Tour.

‘Lead Out’

The technique whereby a cyclist or group of cyclists frame a line with their sprinter towards the end, then gradually build up the pace before peeling off, permitting the last man in line (in this case the sprinter) to go for the win.

‘Neo Pro’

Rookie or first-year professional.


The rundown of a riders' results all through their career.


The route or course for the race.


The main group or gathering of riders in the field, which usually comprises the race leader.


The pursuing’ cyclist(s) who may be wedged between the tête de la course and the peloton, either because they've been dropped by the previous or have split far from the latter.


A staff member who fundamentally exists to provide the riders of everything from massages, to cooking, cleaning and transportation.

‘Swing off’

When a cyclist has completed their turn on the front of the group, regardless of how big or small, and they move wide to permit another rider to go within.


A solid and steady pace being set by the cyclist or group of cyclists on the front of the bunch.

`Tête de la Course’

The 'Leader of the Race', a single or group of cyclists who have split far from the main peloton. Their lead is frequently brief as extra energy is required. Yet, in the event that the breakaway gets its timing and right tactics, glory awaits.

Types of Jerseys and their meanings

At the other end of the race from the ‘Lanterne Rouge’, cyclist will be competing for different Coloured Jerseys. And all of them surely want the famous ‘Maillot Jaune.’

‘Le Maillot Jaune’: or `The Yellow Jersey’, which is worn by the race leader.

‘Le Maillot à pois’: or `The Polka Dot Jersey’, which is worn by the best climber.

‘Le Maillot Vert’: or `The Green Jersey’, which is worn by the points leader, usually the best sprinter.

‘Le Maillot Blanc’: or `The White Jersey’, which is worn by the best young cyclist under the age of 25.

Now you can feel more proficient about everything regarding the Tour de France, or anything cycling related. We are sure you will be way more confident when watching the tours with your friends and loved ones.