The Tour de France is renowned for the excitement it stirs up among all the fans that tune in worldwide to follow the race. We’re fans of these athletes thanks to their passion and dedication to the sport, and we’re not alone, since this is one of the world’s largest sporting events with millions of fans cheering from the sidelines.
Aside from all the high stakes athleticism and adrenaline flowing in the peloton, there’s a less serious side to the Tour de France. Many of the big names in the Tour are given nicknames by their fans based on their personality, riding style or even past races. If you’re following the race, we want to help make it a little easier to keep up with all the crazy aliases of the top riders and favorites of this year’s event.
The Yellow Jersey Contenders
Italian Vincenzo Nibali is known by his fans as “The Shark of Messina” referring to the sea channel in his hometown of Messina and to his shark-like strategy, since “you don’t see him until it’s too late”. Speaking of sharks, check out the custom paint job on his bike!
Spaniard Alberto Contador a.k.a “El Pistolero” is known for firing off explosive attacks and often coming out the winner, hence his “gunman” nickname. Watch out for his signature victory move, where he shoots his finger guns into the air.
Kenyan-born Brit Christopher “Froomedog” Froome earned his moniker from his loyalty during the 2012 tour, where he didn’t leave his teammate Bradley Wiggins’s side throughout the entire stage, in an admirable display of team spirit.
Colombia’s Nairo “Nairoman” Quintana is known as a gifted climber. Maybe it’s because of his amazing VO2 ability, or to the fact that he’s been tackling the Andes since his youth in his native Colombia. We’re wondering if his nickname is a nod to the manly expression he wears while competing?
Another Spaniard on the list is Alejandro Valverde. Dubbed the “Green Bullet” by the Spanish media as a play on his last name (“Balaverde”), this rider is known for having been unbeatable at the start of his career.
One more Spanish favorite is Joaquim Rodriguez, known as “Purito” (cigar) thanks to one specific training session earlier in his career. In it, he pulled off an attack and while he ascended, he pretended to smoke a cigar, making it seem like the climb was a piece of cake.
The Green Jersey Contenders
André “The Gorilla” Greipel gets his heavyweight name thanks to his size. A custom paint job featuring a gorilla motif makes his bike an homage to his nickname. His size is both an advantage and a disadvantage for a sprinter, so it will be exciting to see how he fares against the next cyclist on the list.
Hailing from the Isle of Man, Mark “Cav” Cavendish is known as “The Manx Missile” for his riding style and Manx origin. He’s been compared to athletic running sprinters and is known for his speed and his compact riding position.
Slovakian Peter “The Hulk” Sagan has a very fitting nickname, having won the Green Jersey three years in a row – 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2013, his bike featured a custom Hulk green paint job matching his green jersey and namesake.
The Time Trialist
German Tony “Der Panzerwagen” Martin is the time trial powerhouse with the imposing name. With a nickname like “The Tank”, it’s no wonder that he is known for his powerful style when taking on the time trial.
Honorable mention goes to the Tour itself, which is nicknamed “Le Grande Boucle” meaning “big loop” because the route actually loops around France.
Who is your favorite? What are your thoughts on the action so far? Let us know in the comments!
Free your endorphins!
The Endomondo Team