(Scottish) Cycling vernacular: testers

In a previous post I referred to Scottish rouleurs getting a chance to test themselves in an early season time trial, and someone queried my terminology, suggesting the correct phrase for this type of riding should be testers. As we head towards March, time triallists will be looking to the first classified 10 of the year, the Corrieri’s Classic.

A tester is the British slang for a pure time triallist, and wikipedia lists this as “slightly derogatory” – a time-trialist who tends to over-specialize in the discipline. What do you think of this? I’ve heard time trialling devotees refer to themselves as testers as well as roadmen use the word in a slightly disparaging way.


On the continent, a rouleur (or passista if you’re Italian) is a general term for a rider capable of fast riding on the flat. This phrase does seem to encompass a workhorse cyclist who can drill it on the front, chase down breaks and crank up the pace ahead of a lead-out, but as the Euros don’t have as much of a tradition of time trialling as we do, they don’t seem to have specialist terms for against-the-clock specialists. Before the RTL-l’Équipe podcast was cancelled, I remember the (French) panellists bemoaning the lack of French time trial specialists and referring to them as ‘rouleurs’.

The Bunch

Much of our cycling slang comes from continental terms and a few French slang phrases exist for types of rider that we don’t seem to have names for, such as the puncheur – a punchy rider? – and the barroudeur – a swashbuckling all-rounder who loves the solo break.

Voeckler, the people's champion!

Also worth a look is a glossary of European cycling terms on one of my favourite sites, The Inner Ring.