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Tour lexicon

The ardoisier tells the breaks the gap

The ardoisier tells the breaks the gap (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Baffled by the foreign terminology of the Tour? Procycling explains the key words and phrases.

A bloc: English-speaking riders now tend to prefer to say they gave it "full gas" when describing their full-on effort at a crucial moment. A bloc is the French equivalent.

Ardoisier: The men on the motorcycles indicating the gaps between the breakaway groups and the peloton. They are still around but less useful in the times of race radio.

Autobus: See Gruppetto.

Baroudeur: Translates as a "battler" or "adventurer", and used by the French to describe those riders who spend large amounts of time and energy trying to escape from the peloton. CSC's Jens Voigt is the most effective baroudeur, the German having the nous and power to pick the right time for breakaway moves, so much so that many riders wait for Voigt to move and then go with him.

Bonk or knock: The former is guaranteed to get a guffaw from non-aficionados, the latter a look of mystification, but they are both bad news for cyclists who haven't eaten enough and find themselves dropping off the pace and even out of the race. Once riders have "bonked", they are sometimes said to have met "the man with the hammer". See Fringale.

Bunch: See peloton. Flatter stages tend to end with bunch sprints, known in French as a sprint massif.

Caravane publicitaire: This precedes the race proper and is made up of a vast fleet of race sponsors' floats, manned by enthusiastic students throwing free corporate gifts out to the crowds, who can never get enough of them.

Casquette: The cotton cap that all pros used to wear, but which is seen less these days thanks to the compulsory helmet rule, although some riders still wear them under their helmets, especially on rainy or colder days.

To read the full Tour de France lexicon, click here.

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