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Vuelta phasing out podium girls for ‘elegant’ option

No more kisses from the misses, at least at the Vuelta a España.

The Spanish grand tour will break with tradition next month. It will become cycling’s first grand tour to do away with podium girls.

Well, not quite. The so-called “azafatas,” or hostesses in Spanish, will have a modified role. They will also be joined by “elegantly dressed” male counterparts.

The Spanish daily El Mundo said Vuelta officials reacted to growing social media reaction to other races that have phased out the longtime tradition of race hostesses that many see as sexist and out of sync with today’s values.

“We are sensitive to the social debate and media attention that’s been built up the past few months concerning the presence of the podium girls,” Vuelta race director Javier Guillén told El Mundo. “We are not going to turn our back on these concerns, and we will be introducing something new in the next Vuelta.”

Earlier this season, several races decided to do away with podium girls. The WorldTour opener at the Tour Down Under in Australia was the first to set the example. Other Spanish races followed, including events in Mallorca, Catalunya, and Valencia.

Guillén said the organization is working out the details. The race will likely have “elegantly dressed” men and women handing out prizes and flowers. The post-race kiss will be relegated to the dust-bin of history.

Guillén added, “whatever will do will always be in good taste.”

So far, cycling’s other grand tours have resisted calls to eliminate podium girls. Both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France have continued with the long-running tradition that many consider degrading to women.

El Mundo also reported that 2006 Tour winner Oscar Pereiro will have a permanent presence on the post-stage protocol, similar to a role Bernard Hinault also held at the Tour until retiring last year.

The 2017 Vuelta starts August 19 in Nimes, France, and concludes September 10 in Madrid.

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