The Times reported Thursday that the Tour de France will end the tradition of podium girls on its awards stage.
This follows the lead of the Vuelta a España, which phased out podium girls in 2017. Pro cycling races have often been criticized as sexist for podium ceremonies that feature female models to present awards. The bad behavior of some riders and race organizers has only compounded concerns.
On the 2013 Tour of Flanders podium, Peter Sagan, now a three-time world champion, groped a podium girl as she gave winner Fabian Cancellara the traditional kiss on the cheek. He later apologized for the transgression.
In an inappropriate homage to the Sagan incident, the 2015 E3 Harelbeke poster showed a hand reaching for a women’s backside with a tagline that roughly translated as: “Who will ‘pinch’ the Harelbeke this year?” Organizers pulled the offensive poster and apologized.
In 2017, Jan Bakelants made disparaging remarks about podium girls prior to the Tour. When asked about sexual abstention during the race, he made a reference to pornographic movies and added in an interview in Het Laastse Nieuws, “There are also the podium hostesses.” The controversy grew when Bakelants implied that podium hostesses might have sexually transmitted diseases. The Belgian Ag2r rider later apologized under pressure from Tour organizer ASO.
Prior to the Vuelta’s move, the Santos Tour Down Under also did away with podium girls for the 2017 edition of the race.