Understanding The Tour De France

Photo by Joe Slobotnik; http://www.flickr.com/

The weasels in the burrow next to me have been throwing many loud parties lately, forcing me to stay awake until the wee hours of the morning for the last three weeks.  To pass the time, I’m watching the Tour De France way too early in the morning.

I found the race very confusing until I realized the true foundation of the race: cheating.

I have provided the following glossary to help those of our readers who might live next to loud weasels like I do.


  • The yellow jersey goes to the rider who is most likely to be using drugs to win the entire race.
  • The green jersey goes to the rider who is most likely to be using drugs to win the sprinting parts of the race.
  • The polka dot jersey is given to the best country-western square dancer among all of the racers.
  • The white jersey is given to the rider who is most adept at giving up at the right time during any race.

MVB (Most Visible Butt):

The rider wearing the bike shorts whose color and thinness of material make his posterior most visible to the TV audience.


This is the most important thing you must know about professional bike racing if you want to understand what is going on during the Tour: a rider who is all alone in the front of a line –or “echelon”– of bike racers will expend 100 percent of his energy as long as he remains on the front of the line. But because the first rider is breaking wind in front of him, the second rider in line only expends 60 percent of the energy of the first rider, and because the second rider is breaking wind in front of him, the third rider only 40 percent, and so on until the last rider in the echelon is actually gaining energy and strength with every push of his pedals and the entire group of riders is rushing along in a little cloud of farts.

PELOTON: The TV announcers say that “Peloton” means “little ball” and refers to the pack of riders in the front of the race, which, from a distance, looks like a little ball rolling along the roads of France. But it turns out that you are much less likely to be disappointed by the sport of professional biking if you define “Peloton” as “little ball of liars.” {See “perpetrator” below}

PERPETRATOR:  The main drug user; the most successful rider in Tour. Of the about 200 elite bike racers in the world in 2006, about 40 tested positive for banned substances and were given a “time out” from the sport for months or years. And of the nine men who have won the Tour de France since 1991, 7 tested positive for drugs. And of those seven, five were banned from the sport for some period of time.  So, things aren’t really that bad for the sport: of the last 20 tours, at least five might have been won by men who were not using performance enhancing drugs! This does not include Lance Armstrong’s tour wins, which given the disciplinary proceedings now pending against him –his doctors have already been banned for life— seems like a good idea.

ACCESSORIES AFTER THE FACT:  Those teammates riding behind the perpetrator to protect him against comments about his butt being too large, too small, too cute, etc.

DOMESTIQUES: The suffering servants of the Tour, who go back and forth between the team cars and the good riders on the team to give them water bottles and little packets of food. They are also required to clean the good rider’s houses and are not allowed to go to the Tour De France Ball thrown by the charming Prince of France at the end of the race.

ECHELON: A line of bike riders.

DERAILLEUR:  That part of the rider’s brain that allows him to look sincere and likable while lying his face off so as to “derail” any reporter trying to inquire about drug use.

RED NUMBER: A number taped to the back of the TV commentator who did the most heroic job of trying to convince the viewer that the participants in the bike race are great athletes even though what they are doing is done by children all over the world all of the time without much effort at all.

A STAGE: Also known as “a walk in the park.” The vast majority of the race, during which riders just cruise along at the same speed and talk about their investments.

ACTUAL RACE: The last three minutes of any stage of the tour.

WHEEL HUB:  The doctors and various assistants who travel with the riders in their team bus and provide the racers with bandages, medical advice, and blood doping equipment.

SPOKES OF WHEEL: Those tour workers and “hangers on” outside the “hub” who, by their silence, allow the cheating to go on.

JUST DESSERTS: Horrible bike crashes.

VICTIMS: That part of the TV audience who think the racers are to be admired as examples of honest sports competition.

SANE FEW: The people who dress up as water bottles, bananas, devils, moose, or who wear antlers, angel outfits, etc. and run along the bike route next to the riders to give the tour at least one redeeming feature.

MUSETTES: Bags of money with dollar bill sign on the outside, used to carry money stolen from the public and corporations by fraudulently presenting one’s self as a legitimate athlete.

LIVE WRONG: Lance Armstrong’s charity for developing up and coming liars that teaches the principle that cheaters always prosper, or at least prosper long enough to get rich and famous before anyone finds out.

LE SURRENDERE: Giving up during the race because it is not in your best interests financially to keep expending energy: the most important ability of any bike rider.

REAL SPORTS: The social system that weeds out real athletes from the ranks of competitive cycling.