What in the world is a bidon!?

The cycling world is full of vocabulary borrowed from other languages. For those who are new to the sport, it can be very confusing. Here is a glossary of common terms to help you on your way.

  • Autobus/Grupetto: A group of riders behind the peloton. Unlikely to contain the race's main contendors. Rather, those whose goal is just to complete the stage.

  • Attack: When a rider, or group of riders sprint out of the peloton or breakaway group.

  • Baroudeur: An attacking type of rider. Tends to attack in the later part of a race.

  • Bidon: Drinks bottle.

  • Bonk/Hit The Wall:When a rider depletes his energy stores and really starts to suffer.

  • Breakaway Group (The Break): A group of riders ahead of the peloton.

  • Broom Wagon: When a rider falls so far behind in a race, and abandons, he will be picked up by a vehicle known as the broom wagon.

  • Chaser/Chasing Group: A rider or group of riders, who is trying to catch up with another breakaway group/rider.

  • Cooked: After suffering from keeping up with the group, the rider starts to lose contact with said group.

  • Domestique: A rider, who is in service of the team leader. Protects the leader from the wind, manages the pace, and brings bidons from the team car.

  • Echelon: When sidewinds force the following rider to seek shelter behind and to the side of the rider in front.

  • General Classification: The aggregated time for completion of stages in a race.

  • Glass Cranking: When a rider pretends to be working harder than he is, as if his cranks are made of fragile glass, and doesn't want to break them with a hard effort.

  • Grimpeur: A riders who is a climbing specialist.

  • Maillot: French for jersey. Jerseys are worn by leaders of points or time classifications. For example, the best climber, sprinter, young rider, or general classification

  • Neutral Service: When a rider's team car is not instantly available, he can take a wheel or bike from the neutral service. Rarely used.

  • On the rivet: When saddles were mostly made of leather, held in place by rivets, a rider on the rivet would be on the nose of the saddle, in an attempt to deliver maximum power.

  • Parcours: The course/circuit of a race.

  • Peloton: The main bunch in a race.

  • Sprinter: A rider who specialises in riding flat out at the end of a flat stage to try and take the stage win.

  • Stagiaire: A young rider who is given a chance to show what he can do in a handful of races at the end of the season in the hope of securing a contract for the next season. Almost like an apprenticeship.

  • Suffering: A rider who is giving it his all, usually in an attempt just to keep up with the pace. It's generally a painful/uncomfortable experience.

  • Roleur: An all-rounder. A jack-of-all-trades, as it were. One who can climb, sprint and attack well.

  • Tempo: Typically refers to a pace which is high enough to deter attacks, but not split the group into pieces.

  • Turn on the Front: When a rider comes to the front of the group in order to shield the other riders from the wind.

  • Wheelsucker: An insult towards those who don't take a turn on the front, and attack at the end to steal the victory. The pro peloton has many of these.

The list could potentially extend to several pages. For that reason, we have tried to include only the commonest terms.


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