Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia defies trend, keeps podium girls

Many races have ditched the tradition, but Giro race director Mauro Vegni said his event will maintain the practice.

LIDO DI CAMAIORE, Italy (VN) — The Giro d’Italia will go its own road in 2018 and keep podium girls presenting the prizes despite other races stopping the tradition.

Flanders Classics decided to pull women from its races’s ceremonies for 2018, following similar moves by the Vuelta a España and the Santos Tour Down Under. The Tour de France is considering a similar move.

“I am going to go on my road because I think that I’m doing the right thing,” Mauro Vegni said.

Vegni is the cycling director at RCS Sport, the organizer of Italy’s top races including the Giro d’Italia, Milano-Sanremo, and Tirreno-Adriatico, which began Wednesday.

“I don’t think that this is the true problem today when we see that there are so many social problems with children being killed and wives shot, we are losing touch as a society, but this is not the problem,” he said.

“Let’s not be hypocritical. This is a woman with a beautiful smile who is hosting on the podium – and that’s it. If there’s ever a serious problem with it, then we’d consider it.”

Like the other race organizers, RCS Sport employs women to present the trophies and host the podium ceremonies. Typically, they will use two for each jersey or classification.

The practice has divided cycling fans and insiders, however. With pressure mounting, the Government of South Australia decided to withdraw its support for female models presenting prizes starting with the 2017 Tour Down Under. It used junior cyclists instead.

The Vuelta a España, one of cycling’s three grand tours, axed the tradition last summer. The Tour de France is now considering the same, which turns the attention to RCS Sport and its races.

“I don’t care what the other races are doing, I’m just keeping an eye on my races,” Vegni added.

“It’s crazy. There is respect for our women, doing their work and that’s it. I think that maybe the other countries are being a bit a little bit hypocritical making such moves.”

Former host Lein Crapoen explained the role she and other women play at the races.

“Some people don’t seem to realize that my work is much more than looking beautiful on the podium,” Crapoen told Belgian’s Sporza in 2017.

“I’m part of the event’s organisation. The victory ceremony is only part of it. I give the flowers, but it is more than that. I think of it as hostess work. I escort other people on stage for the camera angles, and so on. That’s the difference, for example, with a beauty pageant. Those are just a meat inspection.”

Vegni recognized that sometimes he had to squeeze the brakes when he saw things going too far in his 100-year-old race.

“Our podium girls aren’t dressed like Formula One girls,” Vegni added. “Remember many years ago, we had them in all-lycra body kits? I said let’s get rid of this because it’s not good.”

Formula One has also changed. For the new season, it will replace its famous grid girls with grid kids.