French Cycling Jargon: Saler la Soupe

In honor of today’s Tour de France Grand Départ, I thought I’d bring you an old French expression, whose meaning remained a trade secret for decades – Saler la Soupe.

Literally, ‘add salt to the soup’, back in the day this meant to dope your bidon with amphetamines or something else ‘salty’ to give you an extra boost on the day. From my limited understanding of the history of doping in the pro peloton, this was used when deemed necessary and wasn’t the systematic doping like Armstrong and friends perfected two decades ago.

If you can understand French, here is an amusing video of riders in 1961 being surprised by the question, “what is ‘saler la soupe’?”. Even if you can’t understand, their expressions are priceless.