The first thing to remember about the Tour de France is that it's French and
not American or even English. In fact, the Tour de France typifies the
country in the way that baseball is quintessentially American, and Wimbledon
English. What saddens the purists or xenophobics is the way that
foreigners now dominate the national sport.
2009 Tour de France Humour
- The Devil Rides with the Tour de France
- Tour de France Jerseys
- Who will be 'Le Patron' of the Tour de France in 2009?
- Expressions Heard on the Tour de France
The Tour attracts massive crowds with all kinds of people, supporters,
exhibitionists and eccentrics:
The photo of the devil was taken by Bogdan Cristel and Le Diable is known as
Didi watch out for him in the 2009 tour de France.
The French have a greater ability to laugh out loud at crude or trivial
jokes, while Anglophiles prefer subtler humour. In consequence it is
easier to tell a racy joke at a French cafe than in an English coffee house.
As well as bouffonnerie, the French also like cutting remarks designed to
wound Rather than amuse. Thus, compared with English humour, Gallic
wit is cruel rather than kind, and intellectual rather than nonsensical.
French love their irreverent Astérix books, British prefer Monty Python
sketches. I would also suggest that we British are better at laughing
at ourselves than the French.
The tour riders are truly multi-national, here are examples of a linguistic
misunderstand that could occur between a Frenchman and Australian.
Cyril Dessel to Cadel Evans: Chaussee deformer? (Are you a
Cadel Evans to Cyril Dessel: Dacor Moi Aussie (Of
course, I am an Australian.)
Yellow - Maillot Jaune
Contenders for the 2009 Yellow Jersey
Alberto Contador (Fav, Won)
Carlos Sastre (2008 Winner)
The Yellow Jersey of the Tour
de France is awarded to the rider with the quickest overall time and is,
therefore, the race leader. It was created in 1919 as an homage to the
yellow paper of l'Auto magazine, founder of the Tour de France in 1903.
Eddy Merckx wore the Maillot Jaune for a record 111 days. This Eddy
did because he was a good time time-trialist, proficient climber and great
'Le Patron' of the race.
Green - Maillot Vert
Contenders for the 2009
Mark Cavendish (Fav)
Thor Hushovd (Winner)
The next most prestigious jersey
is given to the leader in the points classification which rewards sprinters.
During each stage, points are attributed during the intermediary sprints and
at the finish. The jersey was introduced in 1953.
Germany's Erik Zabel won it a record six consecutive times between 1996
and 2001. Mark Cavendish was a big contender until he was
controversially disqualified on stage 14 and lost vital points.
Polka Dot - Maillot à Pois Rouges
Contenders for the 2009
King of the Mountains
David Moncoutie (Fav)
Franco Pellizotti (Winner)
Awarded to the
rider who earns most of the points at each summit of a hill or pass. The
winner is known as the 'King of the Mountains'.
Although the award was introduced in 1933, this distinctive jersey was
not introduced until 1975.
White - Maillot Blanc
The newest jersey, the white,
was introduced in 1975. Given to the best young rider [under 25] in the
general classification, it was abandoned in 1989 but reintroduced in 1999.
In 2009 Andy Schleck was considered a 'shoo in', and duly won the
White Jersey, and finished 2nd overall.
Traditionally the Tour de France has a Patron. A leader who rules the
peloton like a medieval warlord rules his kingdom. Will and Guy
remember back to the 1960s when Jacques Anquetil was lord of the peloton.
Since then we have seen the role of Patron pass to Eddie Merckx,
Bernard Hinault, Greg Lemond, and Miguel Induráin. What's intriguing about the 2008 race is there is no
So what are the characteristics of a Patron? Firstly he has to be
fierce rider; relentless at time trials, capable of sprouting wings on
mountain stages. More than pure cycling ability, Le Patron has a
dominant Alpha male personality. The final characteristics for
dominating the peloton are the cunning of a fox, and the strategic planning
of chess grandmaster.
What's intriguing about the 2009 Tour de France is that Lance Armstrong was
a former undisputed Patron, yet this year the number one rider of his Astana
team is the 10-year younger, and more recent winner, Alberto Contador.
Will Armstrong use his Patron powers to guide Contador to victory?
Alternatively, will he use his wily skills to mastermind his own victory?
A cartoon has appeared in Le Monde, the French newspaper, which perhaps
sums up the French attitude to the Tour. Unable to provide a Frenchman as
overall winner since Bernard Hinault the French people look upon Lance
Armstrong with a mixture of ignorance and vitriol:
'Lance Armstrong is unbelievable.............He walked on the moon, he survived
cancer, he won the Tour de France seven times, he revolutionized jazz..........and
you're telling me he isn't on drugs?'
Thanks to Jason Burke, journalist: The Observer.
This mocking expression is used for
the last-placed man in the overall classification, named after the red light
shown on trains to mark the rearmost carriage.
Will and Guy agree that in
a race where just finishing is a considerable achievement even being last is
still an honour.
This is the "Broom wagon" - literally
translated as car brush; this vehicle rounds up race stragglers and boots
them out of the race.
"Herd" or pack; the word used to
describe the racing group.
"Servants" or team helpers. These
participants support their team leader. They do the donkey work that enables
their leader to thrive, or sometimes simply to survive. This may mean
fetching and carrying water and supplies from the team car. It may mean
providing a small slipstream [not permitted in an individual time trial] by
spending a lot of time at the front of the peloton. Or it could even mean
handing over their bike to allow their team leader to continue riding while
they wait for a replacement.
Climber. Those who ride up mountains
with wings of angels have their own honour system; for example, on a
mountain ascent if one grimpeur in the lead group punctures, the others will
slow down, and none will attack until he changes his tyre and safely rejoins
the break-away group.
Expressions Not Heard on The Tour de France
- Sprinters discussing which of them will be wearing the 'King of the
- Grimpeurs crying out for room in a bunch finish on a flat stage.
An Alternative View: French Testing Methods Revealed
Thanks to Terry C Wise
Anti French Sentiment [not supported by Will and Guy]
CNN is reporting
that Lance Armstrong may be stripped of his 7th Tour de France title. In a
random check for banned substances, three were found in Armstrong's hotel
The 3 substances banned by the French, that were found in Lance's hotel room
were as follows:
Please send us your 2009 Tour de France humour