UCI tells E3 organizer to remove controversial promotion

E3 Harelbeke organizers again stir up controversy with race promotion materials, and the UCI steps in threatening legal action.

Late on Friday, the UCI issued a statement disapproving of E3 BinckBank’s new race promotion and “ordering” the race organizer to remove the graphics from all of its media.

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) regrets and strongly disapproves of the choice made by the organizer of the E3 BinckBank Classic,” the statement read.

“The UCI has ordered the organizer of the E3 BinckBank Classic to withdraw the visual promotion from all its communication channels in which it appears. In the case of non-compliance, the UCI will envisage initiating proceedings with its legal bodies.”

The promotion in question shows two women in bodypaint, embracing to form what appears to be a frog. The tagline is, “Who shall crown himself prince in Harelbeke?”

The campaign was unveiled on Monday and caused a stir among cycling fans and journalists on social media. Some accused the race organizer of sexism.

In years past, the race organizer stirred up controversy with more overtly sexist race posters and promotions. In 2015, the poster showed a cyclist’s hand reaching out to grope a woman’s buttocks. The catch phrase that year was “Who will ‘pinch’ the Harelbeke this year?” The poster was subsequently withdrawn.

On Monday, E3 organizers pulled the controversial marketing material and offered up an open call for fans to suggest a new theme for its 2019 promotion.