For three weeks in July, there's a load of French or other words/phrases us cycling commentators, riders and fans pepper our conversations with. Some of our mates are just like "yeah, whatevs." We're not just being pretentious either, they actually describe a lot of what's going on in the race.
But it's easier to understand when you compare it all to your average girls' night out. Here goes.
Group of riders, comes from French word for "herd"
The main big group you go out in, start the night with, walk to the next bar with. There’s some breakaways – usually someone meets a guy/girl or someone’s outside drunk dialling/texting their ex - but there’s often a big bunch of you who head home together.
"Servant"; cyclist who works hard for team leader out front of peloton and other services. Not usually out for personal glory
The mate who gets the drinks, goes to the toilet with you, holds your hair while you vomit and holds your hand to lead you out to the dance floor. If she’s not performing well or for whatever reason is not there, you and your whole group can sometimes fall to pieces.
Team leader/General Classification leader/yellow jersey winner
The one in the group we all want to be
She’s confident, OK looking AND usually nice - but people not in your group can often misunderstand her and think she's arrogant. She’s got EVERYTHING including the dress and the guy/girl we were all after too.
But she always makes it to the end of the night and doesn't dump you but you all pretty much go where she wants to. Yeah, we all have our good qualities, but you know there’s something special about this one.
Sprinter - flashy as hell, wins a few stages, then either choofs off home or makes it over the mountains to win the last flashy stage in Paris
You're there for HER. She doesn't really need you until the chips are down and she needs a wingman. You'll help out, she'll score and then leave you on your own.
The lanky and skinny girl of the group who has flashes of brilliance during the later stages of the night when you're all just thinking how much your feet hurt from your high heels and leaves you for dead on the dance floor. She sometimes looks good in polka dots too.
Tete de la course
Front of the pack/the breakaway
The one who gets socially excited and/or has too much to drink and goes hard early. If she remembers to have water and gets some air, she will make it through the whole night out on the dance floor while the rest of you are still seated talking about life and love.
If not, she’s the one the domestique has to hug while she’s crying or holding her hair while she vomits, or noone actually knows where she gets to but you find out next day she passed out and was asleep somewhere.
Someone’s younger sister, cousin, nephew who’s just turned 18 and is on her first night out with you. She learns a lot from you all.
Stage (as in the TDF has 21)
Each bar you go to or plan to go to on the night out
You yell this repeatedly as you do shots
As in maillot (jersey) jaune (yellow)
The colour of your eyeballs the next day
As in maillot (jersey) vert (green) (jersey for the most consistent sprinter type racer)
Green is how you feel the next day
Agressive rider - attacks when things seem pointless and may pull it off to win
The girl who attacks you verbally or physically when she’s drunk. It's sometimes the same person as Tete de la course
Officious bouncers who for example reckon tete de la course has had her last drink and you all should leave. You'd think combative would take offence but it's usually sprinteur.
Team dogsbody/assistant - not riding on the team
If it's a hen’s night, this would be the bridesmaid.
Strong rider who drives bunch on flat stages for team & leader, can win a stage or two for himself if it's not too mountainous
The mate who motivates you in the last hour to keep going, have another drink, and gets you to the last bar.
Red lantern. Refers to red light on back of a train or, the rider who after 21 stages is last
They break off from the group and end up waking up somewhere that doesn’t look familiar. They are the last one home.