The Tour De France 2018 begins tomorrow and involves 21 stages, covering a huge distance of approximately 2,186 miles or 3,519 kilometres! Over 13 million spectators will line the route making the Tour de France the largest sporting event in the world ahead of the FIFA World Cup that is also taking place at the same time.

If you’re going to be one of the approximately 4 billion people who is going to watch the Tour De France then you might want to brush up on your French terminology before the race begins! So, we’ve provided some key Tour De France words and phrases below, so that you can get fully involved with this year’s largest sporting event!

Keyword/ phrase | Meaning

La Grande Boucle | Nickname for Tour de France.
Grand Départ | The official start of the tour.
Équipe | ‘Team’ – team sponsors range from postal services to television networks.
Équipier | ‘Domestique’ – a cyclist who supports the lead team rider, riding back and forth to bring supplies.
Étape | ‘Stage’ – each tour is usually made up of about 20 stages, made up of flat and mountain terrain (“étape de montagne”), as well as time trials (“contre la montre”).
Flamme rouge | ‘Red flag’ – marks the last kilometre of the stage, which can often encourage a group of sprinters to start speeding up and battling for first position.
Lanterne Rouge | ‘Red light’ – refers to last rider in the race. A lot of publicity comes with this and some domestiques have been known to ride slower to try and achieve the lanterne rouge.
Tête de la course | ‘Head of the course’ – the rider currently at the front of the stage.
Peloton | The main group of riders who usually stick together for the majority of the race and break away just before the finish.
Voiture-balai | ‘Broom wagon’ – the vehicle following the last of the cyclists, marking the last permitted time in the race and offering assistance.
Caravane | A promotional parade two hours before the cyclists, featuring the sponsors giving out samples and gifts to the crowd.
Échapée | ‘Escape’ – when a cyclist gets away from the main group and rides ahead for a long time.

Not only is knowing the French terminology key to getting fully involved with the Tour De France, but understanding what the different coloured jerseys mean is also important. See below to find out what each colour jersey means for the riders…

Maillot Jaune
‘Yellow jersey’ – overall leader of the tour, who has ridden in the least amount of time. The most famous award in the tour.

Maillot blanc
‘White jersey’ – same premise as the yellow jersey, but for the under 26 years of age category.

Maillot à pois
‘Polka dot jersey’ – also known as ‘King of the Mountains’. Refers to the rider who has performed best at mountain stages of the tour.

Maillot Vert
‘Green jersey’ – given to the rider who has gained the most amount of points. Points are gained for reaching various points at different stages throughout the tour.


So there you have it: the key French terminology to make sure you’re clued up just in time for the event to begin tomorrow! For other language insights take a look at our previous blog languages of the World Cup 2018’.

If you have any translation requests contact us and we can get the wheels turning to help you with all your translation needs…let the race begin!