Any riders speaking these languages?

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Apr 1, 2013

RedheadDane said:
I know he isn't techincally a pro cyclist anymore, but I wouldn't be surprised if Cancellara speaks Romansch. Is there any language that guy does speak? Okay, maybe Cantonese, or Mandarin. And I know those aren't minority languages.
I would rather doubt it ... in the region were Cancellara grew up nobody speaks Rumantsch and as far as I know his family has no ties to Grisons ....
Cancellara speaks English, French, German, Italian and Spanish from what I know.

That was not what I meant when I started this thread, though. It's obvious some riders will know plenty of languages because they change teams many times during their career. I was rather interested to know if there are any European riders speaking some rare languages. So far Weening in Frisian and Paul Martens in Low German were mentioned (I don't think Low German is that rare, but still a minority language). Thanks for those replies.

I also asked about Afrikaans because I have some interest in this language since I'm learning Dutch. ;)
This may surprise some of you, but I've been told that Richard Virenque actually can speak French :D (à l'insu de son plein gré).

PS 1 : Oscar Soliz most likely speaks quechua (he is from Potosi)
PS 2 : Hinault most likely speaks Breton (I don't, although I still understand simple expressions and occasionally use a few breton words)
PS 3 : ex-world traveler and cyclist Marcel Wust (mentioned earlier) is German, not Swiss.
PS 4. Romansch being spoken by so few people (about 70 000), only cyclists from around Davos-St Moritz would be "candidates". There was (is) a pro from there, can't think of his name right now.
As for Welsh - Owain Doull is the first fluent Welsh speaker to win an Olympic Gold medal in any sport. He went to a Welsh speaking school. The Welsh language TV channel S4C made a documentary about his Olympic story. Here's an extract:

Thomas and Rowe don't speak Welsh, but Dave Brailsford does. Here's a clip of him making a cameo appearance in the Welsh language soap opera Pobol Y Cwm:
Jan 13, 2014
Sepulveda is a Rawson native, a city founded by Welsh emigrants, pretty sure he knows a few words in welsh.

Wonder if some of the Girona residents can speak Catalán
Robert Millar was schooled at Shawlands Academy in Glasgow (Scotland's "International School") so when he was younger I'd expect him to have schoolyard knowledge of several different languages.

Probably made it much easier to pick up languages later as a pro in mainland Europe too.
I'll dig this up because there's not much to discuss about nowadays.

This cyclist has caught my eye because he has a similar surname to Michael Ballack, which, as I had read, is the name of Sorbian origin (even though Ballack himself doesn't speak Sorbian). I was able to find that Pollack had been born in Räckelwitz and in this municipality majority of people could speak Sorbian in 2001.

Does anyone know if he considers himself a Sorb or has any knowledge of Sorbian language?
Boonen was fluent in Dutch/Flemish (duh), English, French and picked up some Italian, Spanish and German along the way. All with a Kempish (his region in Belgium) accent tho. :sweatsmile:
So... apparently Mikkel Honoré speaks/understands the Bergamasque dialect, at least well enough that he's willing to answer fan questions in that languge. Or... maybe it's just DQ declaring him willing to do so.
I don't think anyone outside the Bergamo area understands that dialect.
On the Women's side you have Maria Canis, 2 time winner of the La Grand Boucle Féminine (also 3 seconds places) and the 1988 Giro Rosa (she also had a XC skiing background), one of Jeannie Longo's biggest rivals. She was born in La Villa in Alta Badia and is a a native Ladin speaker, that is pretty unique.
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Those aren't exactly minority languages.
But why did he (apparently) give up on German?
He was having Sutterlin teaching him, so my guess is currently he doesn't have a teammate who speaks it to teach it to him? That would be my guess as to why.

The other three (Spanish, English and Russian) he grew up speaking. Most people from Costa Rica speak Spanish and English and his mother is Russian which is how/why he learned Russian.