Right on dear Tour de France (or general cycling) newbies: we've got you situated. We've got you acquainted with all the assorted freaks (except the tifosi--and yes, I'll get to that too!) on the race course. And now, just when you want to ask yourself, "what *does* all that crap on the TV screen mean?", it's time for Cycling Lingo to Amaze and Delight Your Friends: French Stuff Edition!*
*and don't give me crap about accents, I can't figure out how to do them properly on here, stuff it Mr. Nitpick, and keep yer eyes on the prize already!
Tete de la Course: get yer minds outta the gutter and cool your jets, you pervs--it's who's leading the stage at the moment. Don't worry about the pressure of leadership, someone'll attack soon, and all your day's agonizing hard work'll be lost!
Poursuivants: they're chasing the tetes. They either tried to bridge across to the leaders and/or breakaway, and couldn't, or were already in the breakaway or lead group, and couldn't keep up and fell back. Sucks either way, I gotta say!
Arriere: your derriere is in arriere--yep, you've cracked, and you're in the autobus!
Bidon: it's fancy foreign words for water bottle. Not only can you drink from it, you can use it to catch an easy ride by clinging to it for 10k while your DS hands it over from the team car, if you don't mind getting your lazy cheating !@# tossed out the race when you go too far. Covered in spit and thrown to the actual roadside, if you are lucky enough to be there, the bidons are a prized souvenir for fans. Extra points if you get into a fistfight over it for the cameras!
Musette: Also a beloved souvenir, if you're a fan of half-eaten ham sandwiches and gel packets that spooge like alien goo, it's a lunch bag with a long handle your swanny hands you while you're racing and you sling it over your shoulder, snarf your snacks, then toss it aside. If you are an idiot, or are just pissed off at someone, it is an excellent item to toss into a rival's wheel, tangling it horribly. *Sooooo* sorry, chum!--uh, remember that part where I told you about "hiding in the team bus" after the stage?
Maillot jaune: the reason for your entire existence--the coveted leader's yellow jersey of the Tour de France. Wear it once, it makes your career. Wear it on the final podium in Paris, and it makes you a god--at least until you get busted by our next vocabulary word!
Dopage Controllee: what Alejandro Valverde really, *really* needs to watch out for. Welcome to post-race doping control--and don't try shoving a dope-neutralizing "masking agent" down yer bib shorts before you hand over the liquid goods, some loser's already tried and gotten busted for that!
Allez Allez!: roughly, an encouraging "come on! come on!" shouted by the fans along the road. Particularly sporting to cheer on the autobus, and particularly startling to shreik right in a stage contender's ear: so back off, we'll deal with race etiquette later!
Gendarme: Acting like an !@#hat pressing too close to the racers shouting at the top of your lungs waving some completely irrelevant country's flag dressed up as some hideous clown/viking/panda/banana hybrid? The local gendarmes, there to keep order, will glare at you *very* severely!
Chateau: there's nothin' goin' on. Time for the commentators to give you a history lesson on that decadent French house the helicopter camera's castle-porning on, replete with tales of what wine, cheese, and four-star entrees they had there the last time the peloton swung by this way. But don't be jealous--in the immortal words of Mel Brooks (well, his stand-in), "Bonjour, scum!"
Flamme Rouge: last but not least--especially for the poor shmoes who've had to ride six hours without stopping like Oleg Tinkov's been chasing after them with a bullwhip--it's the red upside-down triangular banner hanging from a giant inflatable promotional doo-dad that indicates there's just 1 kilometer to go. Don't look away--a *lot* of action can happen in the last 1000 meters. Sprinters: time to get organized. Breakaway: time to pray the DSes in the team cars have miscalculated how fast the peloton needs to go to catch you and you won't be caught within a few excruciating meters of the line. Climbers: if you've got *anything* left in the writhing knots of cramping ligament that make up yer legs, now's the time to stalk (and soon's, but not yet's, the time to pass) yer prey!
Okay, I think we've nailed the French stuff you need to know. Next up: More Arcane Cycling Terms You Need to Sound Like a Total Pretentious D--uh, like a totally knowledgeable fan. Oh, and if you win, you get to spray the poor podium babes with a shook-up magnum of "Champagne"!