Tour de France glossary: Fries, water heaters and lanterns

Tour de France glossary: Fries, water heaters and lanterns

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 9:27 p.m. ET

PARIS (AP) — As Tour de France riders get ready for their three-week odyssey, everybody wants to know who will be the race's new "patron."

And, of course, who will be the "lanterne rouge" when the race reaches Paris.

As it is the case every year, some top contenders will "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 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.

BIDON: "Plastic Water bottle"

CHAUDIERE: "Hot water heater" — A doped rider.

DOMESTIQUE: "Servant" — A rider dedicated to helping his team leader. The most talented of the domestiques often become leaders in their own right. Or sometimes team leaders can be relegated, as in the case in last year's Tour with Chris Froome, relegated to a "super domestique" role in aid of teammate Geraint Thomas.

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.

PASSER PAR LA FENETRE: "Going through the window" — This expression full of imagery 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 break the wind for a rival, 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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