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Cyclists' Nicknames

Cycling terms glossary | Pro team sponsors, what they made or sold

Les Woodland's book Cycling's 50 Craziest Stories is available as an audiobook here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

In an effort to popularize the sport and make the racers interesting to less committed sports fans, early 20th century journalists took to creating nicknames for the riders. Tour father Henri Desgrange was a particularly energetic namer.

The tradition didn't stop with Desgrange and today nearly every popular rider has a handle given to him by his teammates, fans or sports writers. Here is a sampling. I haven't bothered listing common diminutives, such as "Bill" for William or Dédé for André.

I've linked riders with their interviews or histories posted on BikeRaceInfo.

Special thanks to Les Woodland, and Larry Theobald of CycleItalia


A

  • Djamolidine Abdoujaparov: The Tashkent Terror
  • Jean Aerts: Brummel van de fiets
  • Ugo Agostoni: The King of the Descents (Re delle discese)
  • Jean Alavoine: Gars Jean
  • Stefano Allocchio: The Plague (La Peste)
  • Phil Anderson: Skippy, Dr. Teeth
  • Henry Anglade: Napoleon
  • Jacques Anquetil: Monsieur Chrono, Maître Jacques
  • Lode (Louis) Anthonis: The Lawyer
  • Maurice Archambaud: Chubby Cheeks, The Dwarf
  • Moreno Argentin: The Boss (Il Capo), The Gazelle
  • Lance Armstrong: Mellow Johnny, Big Tex, The Boss
  • Hippolyte Aucouturier: The Terrible

B

  • Federico Bahamontes: The Eagle of Toledo
  • Ercole Baldini: The Fast Train from Forlì (Direttisimo di Forlì)
  • Gibi Baronchelli: The Hermit
  • Gino Bartali: The Man of Iron (L’uomo di ferro), Gino the Pious
  • Michele Bartoli: Lion Cub (Leoncino), The Warrior (Il Guerriero)
  • Ivan Basso: Ivan the Terrible
  • Gilbert Bauvin: The Yapper
  • Mario Beccia: The Flea
  • Louis Bergaud: The Cantal Flea, Lily
  • Daniele Bennati: The Panther
  • Gaetano Belloni: The Eternal Second (Eterno secondo)
  • Charles Berty: The Ox
  • Antonio Bevilacqua: Big Lips (Labbrone)
  • Paolo Bettini: The Cricket (Il Grillo)
  • Marcel Bidot: The Trombone (because of the way he moved around the peloton), The Pack Shepard
  • Alfredo Binda: Campionissimo, The Trumpeter of Cittiglio (Trombettiere di Cittiglio), Giocondo (from the Mona Lisa because of his amiability)
  • Franco Bitossi: The Crazy Heart (Cuore Matto), The Wild Horse
  • Olimpio Bizzi: Il Morino
  • Jean Bobet: The Professor
  • Louison Bobet: The Professor, Zonzon, The Baker from St. Méen
  • Emanuele Bombini: The Hammer
  • Guido Bontempi: The Buffalo
  • Tom Boonen: Tommeke, Tornado Tom, The Bomb from Balen, The Balen Express
  • Frans Bonduel: Chubby (Le Rondouillard), Monsieur Paris-Brussels
  • Ottavio Bottecchia: The Mason from Friuli (Le Maçon de Frioul), Butterfly (for his big ears)
  • Pierre Brambilla: The Clog, or Clogface (because of his big, jutting chin)
  • Hernan Buenahora: The Little Goat from Barichara (El Cabrito de Barichara)
  • Gianni Bugno: The Lizard, The Chick

C

  • Fabian Cancellara: Spartacus
  • Louis Caput: Petit Louis
  • Guido Carlesi: Little Coppi (Coppino)
  • Jimmy Casper: The Little Ghost
  • Mark Cavendish: The Manx Missile
  • Mirko Celestino: Sputnik
  • Sylvain Chavanel: La Machine
  • Claudio Chiappucci: The Devil (El Diablo)
  • Mario Chiesa: The Fugitive (Il Fugativo)
  • Franco Chioccioli: Little Coppi (Coppino), The Archer
  • Eugène Christophe: The Old Gaul (Le Vieux Gaulois), Cri-cri
  • Mario Cipollini: The Lion King (Re Leone), Super Mario, Il Magnifico, Cipo, Nice Mario
  • Thierry Claveyrolat: The Eagle of Vizille, Clavette
  • Pierre-Marie Cloarec: The Little Farmer of Pleyben, Clo-clo
  • Salvatore Commesso: Toto
  • Alberto Contador: El Pistolero
  • Angelo Conterno: The Man with the Silver Hair (L'uomo con capelli argenta), White Feather (penna bianca)
  • Silvio Contini: The Enigma
  • Fausto Coppi: Il Campionissimo, The Heron (Airone)
  • Giovanni Corrieri : The Sicilian Arrow
  • Claudio Corti: The Fair or Just One (Il Giusto)
  • Hilaire Couvreur: Hilaire the African (because he won the Tour of Morocco)
  • Giovanni Cuniolo: The Fist
  • Damiano Cunego: The Little Prince of Verona (Principino Veronese)

D

  • André Darrigade: The Man with a Hundred Jerseys, The Flying Basque
  • Gustave Danneels: The Greyhound, Mr. Paris-Tours
  • Acacio Da Silva: The Eel
  • Arthur de Cabooter: El Torro, The Bull
  • Nino Defilippis: Cit (Piemonte dialect for "Boy" or "Kid")
  • Jean De Gribaldy: The Viscount
  • Jef Demuysere: The Flemish Bull (De Vlaamse Stier)
  • Roger de Vlaeminck: The Gypsy from Eeklo, Monsieur Paris–Roubaix
  • Maurice de Waele: The Metronome
  • André Declerck: The Giant from Koekelare
  • Roger Decock: Hats Decock (he modeled caps for Derby Sport)
  • Pedro Delgado: Perico
  • Danilo Di Luca: Killer
  • Maurice Diot: Mangy (le Teigneux)
  • Jean-Baptiste Dortignacq: The Gazelle of Peyrehorade
  • Jean Dotto: The Vintner of Cabasse. Dotto invested his winnings in a winery.
  • Paul Duboc: The Apple
  • Albert Dubuisson: The Colonel
  • Marcel Dupont: The Eaglet of Jupille

E

  • Cadel Evans: Cuddles

F

  • François Faber: The Giant of Colombes
  • Edouard Fachleitner: The Shepard of Manosque
  • Alberto Fernández: The Biscuit (El Galleta)
  • Laurent Fignon: The Professor, Monsieur Citron (Mr. Lemon), The Sun King, Sunnyboy
  • Juan Antonio Flecha: Robin Hood, The Archer
  • Victor Fontan: The King of the Pyrenees
  • Jean Forestier: Le Coeur de Lyon. It means the Heart of Lyon, Forestier's hometown, but also refers to the heart of a lion.
  • Urs Freuler: The Cobra
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G

  • Luigi Ganna: The King of Mud
  • Carlo Galetti: Squirrel of the Canals (Scoiattolo dei Navigli), The Human Stopwatch
  • Maurice Garin: The Little Chimney Sweep (Le petit ramoneur), The White Bulldog
  • Gustave Garrigou: Lord Brummel
  • Stefano Garzelli: The Little Pirate (Il Piratino), The Jaguar
  • Louis Gauthier: The Chain-breaker
  • Charly Gaul: The Angel of the Mountains, Monsieur Pi-pi
  • Bernard Gauthier: Monsieur Bordeaux-Paris, Lionheart
  • Raphaël Géminiani: Top Gun (Le Gran Fusil)
  • Giovanni Gerbi: The Red Devil
  • Felice Gimondi: The Aristocrat, The Buzzard of Bergamo
  • Marco Giovannetti: The Mite
  • Costante Girardengo: Campionissimo, The Novi Runt
  • Flavio Giupponi: The Hard Man (Il Duro)
  • Walter Godefroot: The Bulldog of Flanders
  • Aitor Gonzalez: The Terminator
  • Jean Graczyk: Popoof (derogatory French term for Poles)
  • André Greipel: The Gorilla
  • Joseph Groussard: Le Coq de Fougères
  • Giuseppe Guerini: Beppe Turbo
  • Learco Guerra: The Human Locomotive

H

  • Alfred Hamerlinck: Don Fredo
  • Andy Hampsten: Ernie
  • Roger Hassenforder: The Clown (boute-en-train), The Bandit, Rabid Hassen
  • Albert Hendrickx: The Sock
  • Bernard Hinault: The Badger (Le Blaireau)
  • Thor Hushovd: The Norwegian Bull, The God of Thunder
  • Luis "Lucho" Herrera: The Little Gardener (El Jardinerito)

I

  • Emile Idée: The King of the Chevreuse
  • Miguel Indurain: Big Mig, El Navarro, The Giant of Navarro, El Rey, The Big Quiet One

J

  • Laurent Jalabert: The Panda, JaJa
  • Jan Janssen: The Professor
  • José-Maria Jiménez: The Bad One (El Chaba), The Little Bull (Torito)
  • Julio Jiménez: The Watchmaker of Avila

K

  • Karel Kaers: The Phenomenon
  • Sean Kelly: King Kelly
  • Norbert Kerkhove: Schotje (because of his resemblence to Briek Schotte)
  • Ron Kiefel: Wookie
  • Marcel Kint: The Black Eagle
  • Knut Knudsen: The Norseman
  • Hugo Koblet:  The Pedaler of Charm, le bel Hugo
  • Ferdy Kubler: The Eagle of Adilswil, The Nose (Die Nase), Rabid Ferdy, The Cycling Cowboy, Cyrano, The Mad Cyclist, Ferdy the Stallion, Mr. 100,000 Volts, The Magnificent One
  • Hennie Kuiper: The Gentleman, The Diesel, The Flying Dutchman, The Philosopher
  • Karl-Heinz Kunde: The Flea

L

  • Charles Lacquehay: Long Rifle (Lonque Carabine)
  • Octave Lapize: Curly (Frisé)
  • André Leducq: Le Joyeux Dédé
  • Greg LeMond: Le Monster, The Cowboy
  • Adolfo Leoni: Adonis, The Intellectual, The Prince of the Bicycle
  • Désiré Louesse: The Jockey
  • Léon Louyet: Le Poilu (The Hairy One)

M

  • Marc Madiot: Mr. 1,000 Volts
  • Freddy Maertens: The Ogre
  • Sylvére Maes: The Crafty Father (Le Père futé)
  • Antonin Magne: The Monk, Tonin the Wise
  • Fiorenzo Magni: The Lion of Flanders, The Third Man, The White Wolf, The Colossus of Monza, The Powerhouse of Monza, The Tuscan Flandrian
  • Tony Martin: Der Panzerwagen
  • Florent Mathieu: Le Borain (because he was from Borinage, Belgium)
  • Jules Matton: The Boxer
  • Iban Mayo The Rooster (El Gallo)
  • Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal
  • Russell Mockridge: The Geelong Flyer
  • Julien Moineau: The Sparrow (le Piaf)
  • Enzo Moroni: The Colt
  • Aldo Moser: The Grandfather (Il Nonno)
  • Francesco Moser: The Sheriff (Sceriffo), The Saint
  • Louis Mottiat: The Man of Iron
  • Ivor Munro: Snowy
  • Johan Museeuw: Lion of Flanders, the Seagull (de Zeemeeuw)

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N

  • Giuseppe Antonio Negrini: Bull-Dog
  • Gastone Nencini: The Lion of Mugello (Il Leone del Mugello), Tired Face (faccia di fatica), Mistero
  • François Neuville: The Boar
  • Vincenzo Nibali: The Shark of the Strait (Squalo dello Stretto)
  • Andrea Noè: Grumpy (Brontolo, from the Seven Dwarves)

O

  • Luis Ocaña : Humpy (Chepas)
  • Constant "Stan" Ockers: The Mathematician
  • Harm Ottenbros: The Eagle of Hoogerheide (De Adelaar van Hoogerheide)

P

  • Roberto Pagnin: The Hunter
  • Marco Pantani: The Pirate (Il Pirata), Elefantino, The Squirrel (Il Scoiattolo), The Little Devil (Il Diavoletto)
  • Georges Passerieu: The Parisian Englishman (he was born in London)
  • Eberardo Pavesi: The Lawyer (L’avvocato)
  • Fabio Parra: The Condor of the Andes
  • Eric Pedersen: Handsome
  • William Pedon: Torchy
  • Charles Pélissier: Brummel, Valentino, The Eternal Warrior, the Elegant One, Charles the Great
  • Francis Pélissier: The Magician
  • Henri Pélissier: King of the Lombards, The Greyhound, Iron Wire, String (Ficelle)
  • Franco Pellizotti: the Dolphin of Bibbione (Delfino di Bibbione)
  • Alessandro Petacchi: Ale-Jet
  • Lucien Petit-Breton (real name Lucien Georges Mazan): l'Argentin (because he had lived in Argentina)
  • Loretto Petrucci: The Meteor, The Miller from Pistoia
  • Jacquie Phelan: Alice B. Toeclips
  • Davis Phinney: Cash Register
  • Domenico Piemontesi: The Bowler (Baslot), The Cyclone from Baca, The Smasher (La Spacca)
  • Leonardo Piepoli: The Flying Trullo (Trullo volante)
  • Roger Pingeon: The Wader (L'Echassier), because of his long legs
  • Marco Pinotti: The Engineer (l’Ingegnere)
  • Eddy Planckaert: The Small One (Die Kleine)
  • Willy Planckaert: The Little Van Steenbergen
  • Miguel Poblet: Sancho Panza, The Divine Bald Head, Bebe
  • Lucien Pothier: The Butcher of Sens
  • Raymond Poulidor: The Eternal Second, Pou-Pou
  • Domenico Pozzovivo: The Flea

Q

  • Ivan Quaranta: The Leopard

R

  • Michael Rasmussen: Chicken
  • Gaston Rebry: Bulldog, The Locomotive, Monsieur Paris-Roubaix
  • Riccardo Riccò: The Pharmacist, The Cobra
  • Bjarne Riis: The Eagle of Herning, Mr. 60%
  • Jean Robic: Old Leatherhead, Biquet
  • Stephen Roche: The Page
  • Antonin Rolland: Tonin the Silent
  • Tony Rominger: The Mouse, The Hammer, The Camel
  • Georges Ronsse: The Crybaby
  • Paolo Rosola: The Falcon
  • José Rujano: Coffee Man

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S

  • Ramón Sáez: Tarzan
  • Giuseppe Santhià: Pinot
  • Giuseppe Saronni: The Cardinal
  • Paolo Savoldelli: Babyface, Il Falco
  • Briek Schotte: Iron Briek (IJzeren Briek), The Last of the Flandrians (De Laatste der Flandriens)
  • Gerrit Schulte: The Pedaling Fool
  • Léon Scieur: The Locomotive
  • Patrick Sercu: The Flemish Arrow (Vlaamse Pijl)
  • Luca Scinto: The Python (Il Pittone)
  • Félix Sellier: The Miner (his profession before turning pro)
  • Oscar Sevilla: The Kid (El Niño)
  • Herbert Sieronski: Herbert the Bald
  • Francis Siguenza: Zig-Zag
  • Gilberto Simoni: Gibo, The Eagle of Palu di Giovo (Aquila di Palu di Giovo)
  • Tom Simpson: Mister Tom
  • François Simon: Spud
  • Georges Speicher: The King of Montlhéry
  • Jean Stablinski: le Polac, Monsieur France (the latter after winning his 4th French national road title)

T

  • Andrea Tafi: The Gladiator (Il Gladiatore), Il Taffone
  • Omer Thys: Le Petit Omer
  • Philippe Thys: Fat Dog, The Basset Hound (because of his low cycling position)
  • Vicente Trueba: The Flea of Torrelavega
  • Pavel Tonkov: The Czar

U

  • Diego Ulissi: The Little Train (Il Pendolino)
  • Jan Ullrich: The Kaiser, Der Jan, The Yoyo (for his weight gain and loss)

V

  • Alejandro Valverde: The Green Bullet
  • Hein Van Breenen: Tarzan
  • Odiel Van Den Meerschaut: The White One (De Witte, for his blond hair)
  • Eric Vanderaerden: The Arrow
  • Piet van Est: The Fireball (because of his red hair)
  • Wim Van Est: Iron Will, The Locomotive, The Executioner of Heike
  • Edwig van Hooydonck: Eddy Bosberg
  • Lucien van Impe: De Kleine van Mere
  • Henri Van Kerckhove: Speedy Van Kerckhove (Kwik Van Kerckhove)
  • Henri Van Lerberghe: The Death Rider of Lichtervelde
  • Rik van Looy: The Emperor of Herentals, Rik II
  • Jac van Meer: Jakske
  • Peter van Petegem: De Zwarte van Brakel (derived from his dark complexion and hometown), de Peet
  • Herman van Springel: Monsieur Bordeaux-Paris
  • Rik van Steenbergen: Rik I, The Boss
  • Frans Verbeeck: The Flying Milkman
  • Frans Verhaegen: Suske ("Spike" in English, 2-time winner of Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne)
  • René Vermandel: The Belgian Lapize (probably because of his curly hair)
  • René Vietto: King René (Le Roi René)
  • Roberto Visentini: The Sphinx
  • Alberto Volpi: The Sparrow

W

  • Rini Wagtmans: Tufty (Kuifje)
  • Wout Wagtmans: Zulu, Rascally Wout (Olijke Wout)