Women's Gent Wevelgem 2016
  • De Mac

    I like the idea of having junior cyclists present the jerseys, etc – it happens in other sports and is a big highlight for them to see and speak to their heroes. Great suggestion.

    • JBS

      Yep, fully agree. Surely it would be a great way to help build women’s cycling from the grassroots too, if local junior girls were able to get up on the podium interact with the elite women.

      It wouldn’t hurt men’s cycling either to have junior boys on the men’s podium, either.

    • Dave

      Senior riders who won the race in the past presenting the jerseys would be at least as good as local juniors, in my opinion.

      For a sport that’s close enough to broke, dignitaries from the companies and governments that pay for the whole deal are probably the least worst option.

      Give the kids an autograph session afterwards. Less scary than standing up and performing in front of a crowd and more chance for actual interaction.

    • Albert

      Great post and a great idea.
      On a related note, does anyone remember when Ben Stiller presented the yellow jersey to Cancellara at the 2009 Tour?

    • warnschild

      Kids would be fabulous, and they’d probably enjoy being in the spotlight and maybe get encouraged to pursue their dreams in the future.
      Also, I’d love to see former profesional cyclists in the job, and other people of various backrounds who the winner – male or female – would be honored to share the spotlight with.

      That would give the ceremony a lot more depth and the hosting town/area/region/country a chance to honor their celebrities, too.

  • Craig


  • Nathman

    Sexism or not, you’re forgetting the central fact that podium models wear branded clothing to showcase the event sponsor rather than the rider with his/her sponsors taking up all the camera space and are the one of the central reasons a sponsor might give money to an event in the first place… In a sport that’s rather skint on funds right now, it’s a selling point they can’t afford to drop.

    • Albert

      But in its current sexist, outdated guise it doesn’t sell anything. And anyone can wear the branded clothing. Putting ex-pros or talented juniors up there instead in the same gear wouldn’t hurt the business model.

  • Mel

    Great article raising a very valid point. Podiums should be there to celebrate the riders and not the ‘pretty boys or girls’ that so happen to get up there too. Im all for the idea of getting kids taking up the role instead.
    Nathman – cant the kids wear branded clothing too??

    • ebbe

      Having beautiful people surround them does exactly that: It celebrates the winner as the alpha female/male who gets all the attention. Why do you think James Bond always has beautiful “Bond girls”, which he on occasion even steals from the villain? Not because the script writers want him to “share” the attention with the woman, but to ‘prove’ that he really is the winner, the alpha dog, the man the ladies want to be with, the man any other man wants to be, and – yes – the man who gets the lady in the end. Is this playing on primal instincts? Yes it is. But does it work to portray him as successful? Yes it does.
      Oh, and before anyone considers Hollywood to keep women down: Ok they do. However, they’ve done the exact same thing in the Tomb Raider movies, where Lara Croft gets a new hot guy who wants to be around her in each movie, which makes her “the winner”.

      No matter how much we as people try to hide it, sexual competition (as in: who gets the attention?) is hard wired into all of us just as it is in a peacock strutting his feathers to impress the ladies. It’s in small things: Nobody doesn’t like a compliment (even men) on how good they look today. It’s in medium things: Bragging to your friends on how you got a compliment from a beautiful man/woman today. And it’s in bigger things: Going on and on about how good a wife/husband your own wife/husband is. Underneath the sophisticated words, these are all prime examples of sexual competition intertwined with being successful and winning. It’s been that way since forever, and there’s nothing wrong with that… as long as nobody gets hurt of course.

      • Mel

        Ebbe, I see what you mean about the ‘alpha male/female’ but cant we atleast try and make a change from sexualising these men or women?
        Everyone has their own opinion and thoughts on it but there is no reason why we cant change it. Sometimes traditions, no matter how long they have been standing become dated and need to change.

      • ummm…

        i didnt read your whole post so I wont agree with specifics, but i do agree that the conflict over podium people is petty and can’t stand up to scrutiny. It has not philosphical, or social foundation and only comes about because a certain gender was offended. Now that their was an attempt at “equity” they need to pivot their argument. I dont really ever notice these podium people as they are on the screen for seconds. They are not the problem, they are just an emergent factor of being a species with sexual lives.

      • warnschild

        Ha, and Tomb Raider is such a primitive movie: No content, not even an interesting character. So your “point” is exactly mine, but for the opposite reason: I’m so bored with these brainless-beauty images, and cycling definitely has more to offer.

        Besides, there’s a lot of scientific proof around that shows in an impressive way that sex does not sell at all. It distracts, but does not draw any attention to the product intended to be highlighted.

        Do you think anyone would skip flower ceremonies due to missing podium girls – or the other way around? – I don’t think so!

        They should invest the money in cycling projects for kids instead, and have the youngster representatives of these very projects hand over the flowers and kisses. That would do a lot in favour of the sports AND have a lot of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, school comrades and best friends watch the flower ceremony who’d not do that otherwise.

        • ebbe

          Wow, you’re really managed to misread my comment, haven’t you?

          I didn’t say the old marketing ploy “sex sells products” is true. And I agree: Putting a model on top of a car is no reason to buy that car.

          What I did say is: Being surrounded by beautiful people makes you look like more of a winner, and not (as was argued) less of a winner. The evidence of this is all around. It’s also basic evolution: The most desirable mates (in this case the models) want to be around the most desirable mate (in this case the winner). Therefore, the winner has the models around him/her.

          In several species of animal a female will leave a male mate if they see him loose a fight. I’m not saying this is “right” in some way, nor am I saying it is “wrong”. But this is simply is how our sexual biology works, as it does with any animal in the world. It’s “natural selection sexism”, which is simply part of evolution. We may have invented carbon speed pedalling machines, make up, high heels and silly hats, but we’re basically still just animals.

    • Nathman

      I suppose so Mel, my point was more about marketability tho – a brand wants their logos where they’ll be seen, which is much more likely to be on adult models than kids.

    • ummm…

      are they really celebrating the podium people? we dont even know their name. they dont even really show up on TV unless you watch the seconds long clip of the podium presentation. You are working yourself into a tizzy over nothing.

  • Robert Merkel

    Hear, hear!

  • Fantastic idea, could not agree more !!

  • Gavin Adkins

    I also went “ugh”, but I actually think that podium boys are worse than podium girls. It seems to me that it is designed to diminish the objection to the use of women as podium attendants. It ignores the structural sexism that underpins the original objection and says “it’s just a bit of fun and now we’re all equal so it’s fine and shut up about it.”

    Is this the biggest problem facing women at the moment? Plainly not, it’s not even the most significant issue facing female cyclists. Is it easy to fix? Yes. So can we just fix it already? You can dress kids in sponsored kit, the kids and their parents will get a kick out of it and you just let the kids keep the kit. Not only is it easy to fix, it would almost certainly be better.

  • Eryn

    I couldn’t agree more. I think your idea of juniors or local hero’s presenting flowers is such a great idea & it would show more meaning and depth to the sport. Obviously the issue to objectifying women goes far deeper than just podium girls in the sport of cycling but that doesn’t excuse our sport from modernising.

  • Heather nielson

    Totally agree!!!

  • Martynas Ziemys

    There is nothing wrong with objectification. Nothing at all. No one ever died because of it. I wouldn’t mind it. I wouldn’t care. Who cares? The ones with low self esteem I guess… No? This is not sexism, unless one sex are paid less than the other. Are people offended by the attraction between opposite sexes? I don’t get it. There is nothing wrong with admiring other people because of how they look. As a man I will never be ashamed I like how pretty women look. How the hell do people connect admiring ones looks with disrespect? You create the problem by talking about it. Try telling a friend that it’s a huge problem that people call them fat and you greatly disapprove. :D It’s the same here you sick bastards!

  • Enache

    another social justice warrior got his(her) daily enrage dose

    • david__g

      You get that calling someone a social justice warrior is actually a compliment, right? Who doesn’t want to fight for social justice? Well aside from knuckle-dragging neanderthals, obvs.

      • ummm…

        social justice is relative. It is not a concrete fact and is informed by individuals, their experience, their culture etc. etc. It is an ongoing dialogue. The social justice of a racist is different the the social justice of a non racist. You pretend as if the term is free of context. Being for social justice is not the same as being for the end of murder etc. It is scary that you have these ideas.

    • Vanya
      • ummm…

        her perception of expressing her opinion as a “good deed” is odd. What good deed did she perform? Having a visceral reaction to her opinion is probably because the conflict (manufactured or not) that gender debaters are having is rarely genuine and part of propaganda campaigns that come across as hostile and manufacture facts. I’m not talking from ignorance but from study. There are some very real base facts and ideas about gender and “equality” that i agree with. Now we attempt to deconstruct the podium presentation in a pseudo philosophical way, tarring all that disagree as perpetrators of gender violence, and she feels as if she should be immune from others opinions? If she is getting nasty words then that is wrong, but it is also an off shoot of people exhaustion with phony gender wars and propaganda. Only in the first world.

      • warnschild

        I’d see every single troll as a compliment: Apparently, @Anne-Marije Rook has made a point, a good one. :)

  • Nicola

    I completely agree. It’s objectification whether it’s men or women. Podium girls/boys (calling them girls & boys just reinforces the problem) are outdated. I also wrote a blog post about this last year during the Tour de France.http://womenwhocycle.com/2015/07/podium-girls-are-outdated/

    • Jon Snow

      Nicola please get a grip; sex exists. its a fact! most girls like boys and most boys like girls. Tradition and a harmless gesture at the end of the race is not a problem… stop finding things to get worked up over and stop politicising cycling so much.

      • Michele

        Some boys likes boys, and some girls like girls.

        So can we / should we arrange gay podium boys and lesbian podium girls? You okay with a couple of men puckering up to Fabian after he gets his P-R cobble?

        Or what if the winner is gay? Should we not consider their feelings and arrange same sex podium models for them?

        • ummm…

          if fabian is gay and asks for podium men, then why not? altho i dont think anybody really deconstructs the podium people as you do. It is just window dressing.

          • warnschild

            And that window dressing should not happen, not to gay nor heterosexual people. :)

            • ummm…

              You just said in your previous comment that you dond mind beauty. Neither do I. Instead of me trying to prove to you how having attractive people present for podium pictures is harmless, can we have you prove the harm and how it is inflicted when we have podium men/women. I hear a lot about objectification etc. but I dont see how this objectification translates into real and lasting harm, especially after you admit that you dont mind beauty. I’m not trying to attack, but whenever there is a dialogue on topics such as these the actual harm that one claims is present is never delineated, spoken about in detail, and made real. One may have an emotional reaction to it, and that reaction can be primed by our current gender divisiveness – but I’m not against hearing a reasoned argument re: this topic. Please give it to me so I can understand your point of view better. Thanks. Be safe on the roads.

              edit: to be clear i couldnt care less about podium people if they were to dissapear, but I find your argument/opinion sparse and needlessly fascistic. In fact, I’m a bit insulted by the strategy of just putting males up on the podium now. It cow tows to an argument that is based on emotion with little meat.

              • warnschild

                Whatever you put on a stage is what is meant to be seen. I want those honoured and seen who deserve it. Beauty is not the result of a bike race, it belongs into wardrobes and to fashion shows. Podium girls to me do represent a time when women had no space in cycling but as decorative bystanders. Still, we have – at least in my country – very few races were we can attend, in our clubs, there are merely any women and even less who actually race. There’s no teams for women and not many companies to sponsor them. I could go on for a while, but my point is that many things are yet to change, and that taking away the tradition of podium girls (and men) and instead focusing on giving women the opportunity to present themselves as avid racers, to show beauty in muscle and strength, I’d welcome that. To me, there’s a lot of beauty in that, and were should one focus on that aspect but in the field of sports?

                We have a famous cyclist over here who was only sponsored for her looks, but the company in question didn’t want her to successfully race worldcup races (MTB) because that would be expensive. She did anyway, on her own, and still does so with stunning success, but still, they want her for photoshoots only. Her male counterparts are highly praised for their performance – and shown on pics even if some of them aren’t “attractive” in a fashionista kind of view.

                • ummm…

                  Where is the argument that clearly shows a logic and rationale to how these podium men and women create a harm? Where is the knock on effect. ALl you’ve given me are your personal and emotional opinions, and while you are entitled to them, and while I have empathy because I too react to the world around me, I dont see how your OPINION is valid as a principle for us all to live by.

                  Are podium people at the center of the celebration spectacle, or the winner? You write as if they are. Who implies that the podium people that stand off to the side are supposed to represent the result of a bike race? Additionally, beauty belongs any place that somebody decides to insert it. In fact, I’d say our whole society is a pursuit in beauty of some sort of another – whether in concert with nature or the manifestation of an idea. But, I’d assume your only talking about the bodily beauty. I dont understand you antagonism to it. I have beauty standards thrust upon me and I dont let them effect me, nor do I wish to rid them because beauty is integral in all species for a facet of reasons. We are human, so we are a little better suited to not overreact to its summoning, or at least I thought we were.

                  How do podium girls represent a time, and how are we past that time? Are you implying that podium girls represent patriarchy? That is ridiculous. There have been women cyclists for as long as there have been bikes. Your focus seems to be on racing. Sure, women haven’t monetized or organized racing as well as men have. But, racing cyclists are a SMALL portion of cyclists. Everytime Cippollini has his shirt off I dont predict the demise of the male cyclists purely as a process of our sexual objectification. I’d imagine that some women like the cute cylists for being cute, just like some men like cute female cylcists for being cute.

                  It is a shame what happens with the sexualization of female athletes, but it is not novel. If you want a world where men and women are NEVER seen as sexual then just say it – dont pick and choose where ppl can be sexualized and where they can’t be.

                  Be well.

                  • warnschild

                    We are not into philosophy here and logic deduction.

                    Emotional responses, or spontanious reactions and evoked thoughts, on the other hand, are not to be reduced to “subjective interpretation” of a single person. Also, nothing is less objective just because it is emotion-based. A lot is detemined by how people emotionally response to it, even more so given the fact that emotion and thought go hand in hand and that they can be detrimental to each other, too.

                    I may not have a specific thought or emotion at the very moment I see podium girls (or men) who I may or may not even notice. But the mere fact that they belong to the scenery of a “podium” shows – in my opininion – a specific mindset regarding women, and yes, regarding beauty, too, that should be left behind.

                    And I believe in the impact of that kind of symbolic acts: It shows the general attitude. To me, that’s like someone who holds the door open for others, offers them a seat or helps them put on their coat: They are symbols for gallantry and, in the end, another way to tell someone: “I see and respect you.”

                    • ummm…

                      I’m sorry I have great difficulty with you idea that emotional responses are not subjective and therefore objective. Can you expand upon that. How you your emotions be removed from YOUR OWN subjectivity? Because many people respond emotionally in a given way does not make it objective. It only proves that there are groups where one subjective view is shared. I’ve asked you to present a reasoned argument so that I can understand the “wrongness” of podium people, because I can’t understand it via emotion like you do. I first need to understand WHY emotion should be invoked in me.

                      How is podium presentation a specific mindset re: women? We see that when men are put on the podium many people have a similar reaction. Lets just say that reaction was only with women, then it doesn’t say anything about the world beyond your mind unless you can EXPLAIN how that conflicts exists outside of it. All i know now is that it disturbs you, which I respect, but I beg for you to make it relevant to us all. Many things disturb me, but I always remember that just because it disturbs me doesn’t mean it is “wrong” I need to be able to prove something. Prove a harm. Prove a consequence. Prove a social diminishing. Now, it is up to you to convince us that the emotional disturbance you feel should be imposed upon all of us because your emotional health, when it comes to this minute topic, outweighs the benefits of freedom and self expression practiced by the rest of humanity.

                      So women being seen on a podium reminds you of oppression/objectification, but gallantry and chivalry, which come from a time that women had less agency as well does not? Let me tell you, all these “gallant” things men are supposed to do, i.e. spend money on women in their poor early professional career, carry heavy stuff, etc. IS DISTURBING TO ME. I have money now, but let me tell you – being a guy isn’t a walk in the park either when it comes to getting females to take you seriously. I’ve done fine, but let me tell you “playing” the mans role can be just as disheartening to your soul and your pocket. And Im not even talking about women that want men with money, I’m talking about all women above teenage years. They expect things from men. Think about that.

                    • warnschild

                      I’ll start at the end, right? When talking about “gallantry”, I expect that behaviour from women and men alike. I don’t expect a man to kneel before the woman and pay all the restaurant bills. That’s NOT what I’m talking about at all, but I should have clarified that in the very first place, I guess.

                      Also, I believe you with regards to the male role being not so simple.

                      I’m not sure if I can – and have to – convince you to feel a certain way. It’s true that I cannot talk about objective facts, but rather the way you put it: an opinion/emotional reaction/point of view shared by a certain not-easy-to-be-assessed group of people

                      I’ll try to stick to myself in finding out what exactly I don’t like about podium people (but for the winners ;-) ). It’s the same thing I hate about car and motorbike girls, for example: I love cars, I love motorbikes, I love bicycles, and races, too. But I don’t like the – if even bad and not working – try of manipulating people into buying whatever by adding a bit of decoratice byworks.

                      My main problem probably is that I don’t see the point: Who wants that what for? It’s well known that it doesn’t sell more cars/motorbikes/that there won’t be more people watching/invensting in bike races. That seems to be an insult for anyone with brains.

                      Also, the message – to me, yes, subjectively – seems to be: This is intended for male viewers only. If not, they – in their cheap way of thinking – would have added male models of that kind for their whatever-reason, wouldn’t they? That, on the one hand, makes me feel like an intruder in the world of cars and bikes which I do not want to be.

                      On the other, I’m not a fierce anti-podium-girls-and-boys person, so I don’t want to discuss too hard on it, but I find it to be a stupid and brainless tradition I’d abolish and invest the money in sensitive stuff instead.

                      To end with a subjective and emotional statement: I like children, they’re cute. So let them have fun and do the job. I’d definitely enjoy that. Very much so!

                    • ummm…

                      “Also, the message – to me, yes, subjectively – seems to be: This is intended for male viewers only. If not, they – in their cheap way of thinking – would have added male models of that kind for their whatever-reason, wouldn’t they? That, on the one hand, makes me feel like an intruder in the world of cars and bikes which I do not want to be.”

                      OK I understand that completely. And possibly I understood it before, but maybe just needed you to bring it to life in my brain. I dont get any enjoyment from the podium people besides the nanosecond where I say to myself “oh she is pretty”. Then that is usually followed by, “would these women be kissing this guy if he didn’t win?”, or “i wonder if he is still sweaty – yuck”, or “hmm i should go back to [fill in the country] they have some beautiful women there”. All silly thoughts that pass through my mind instantaneously. But, I can understand that it sticks in your mind. For example, the way modern media portrays men can be very frustrating. I notice it more than you and it stays with me longer than it does with you. Is cycling made better by podium people. NO. Is it made worse. NO. Does it bother a certain group of people. YES. So, since it has not positive or negative effect outside making you feel uncomfortable I’d say we dont need them. I just dont think we should say we dont need them solely because it makes people uncomfortable – we dont need them because it makes you uncomfortable AND it has no other value. This is a bit of a step back from my previous positions where I said “No they stay because we can’t be tyrannized by every persons emotions” But you’ve expressed it so eloquently that now I have an emotional reaction to it. Keep in mind that we are both still just having emotional reactions, but if it makes you feel better and more welcome then what do we really lose. I’d as tho that we dont ban all really attractive people from cycling events because I dont want to be walking around with uglies – just kidding. Additionally, I am NOT for junior cyclists presenting the trophies. THe only proper thing would be the cutest kitten and puppy species of the region presenting the flowers etc. Kids are uncoordinated and awkward. It would really stain the triumph of the moment.

                    • warnschild

                      :D Thanks for respecting my emotional needs.

                    • ummm…

                      It is firstly your intellectual expression of those emotions that I respect, however through that intellectual expression I have learned to empathize with you emotionally. Is there a difference? I dunno. Maybe I’m just being a “guy” now.

                    • warnschild

                      Be it the one or the other, I feel honoured. :)

                    • ummm…

                      What a fantastic conversation I’ve had with you. THank you

                    • warnschild

                      You’re welcome, and thank you, too.

                    • ummm…

                      oh one more thing. I still disagree with the article re: the terrors of objectification. Objectification is everywhere. But, I am swayed that this particular objectification has little to no REAL benefits, so why have it.

                    • warnschild


                      Reduction to a single aspect is what I don’t like. No problem with physical beauty in a person, but with a person reduced to it. That actually bores me.

    • ummm…

      everyone is an object. it is the actions that we do to the objects around us that really speak to who we are and our vision of the world. To say that these men women are only objects is to deny that they are employees of a company that organized an event and are part of the celebration. However useless you find the gesture (as I do) doesn’t mean that the gesture is violence. The word soup we use to attempt to make an argument against an inconsequential tradition is laughable. Tell me, what violence/harm has arisen from an attractive person presenting an award? Do you despise our entertainment culture as beauty is a standard? DO you think that we should outlaw the perception of beauty and therefore rid ourselves of such a nuisance? We should all walk around in masks I suppose.

      • warnschild

        No, it’s not that. As a woman, I do not feel being taken seriously when cycling companies present their products for men with strong-legged cyclists, but female-specific products with models who apparently don’t even know how to ride up a hill properly. I want bikes, clothes and accessories made for me, and I am a cyclist and no mere pretty bystander decorating the scenery. It’s not fair to me – nor any other woman – to act that way.

        I don’t mind beauty, but there are a lot of beautiful real cyclists around there, and that’s who I want to see – on an off stage!

        The podium girl discussion may be not very much and probably just a symbol, but a very strong one for a lot lieing in it’s shadow.

        • ummm…

          What specific ads targeted towards female cyclists are your referring too? I’m not refuting it, but I’d like to see them. Try to make them from cycling industry companies and not super stores trying to sell cycling stuff. If there are a flood of them, then I should be made aware.

          • warnschild

            I’m not sure if you’d see it if you saw it. I already feel pissed when I go into a shop that doesn’t offer anything but pink stuff for ladies, and that top level shoes, trousers and jackets for ladies more often than not aren’t as light, as good as the mens version though often at the same price.

            For example, I had myself a rain jacket yesterday and went into a sports-specific store with a big cycling department. They had quite a choice, but not of highest quality (membrane). You could argument that’s what the market wants, and that maybe all too true. On the other hand, I don’t want to pay the same price for, for example, Castelli clothing with a soft pad and made out of cloth of minor quality, or get myself shoes (I have very small feet and cannot use male’s shoes) that are not available with carbon fibre soles and boa-dial closure system.

            Back to the adds: I tried to make my point, took the latest MTB magazine (biggest in Europe), but merely found 4 adds showing women at all, one of which for a womens’-specific bike camp, 2 of XC pro riders, one of a “girlfriend” apparently hating the latest shit of YT industries (http://jeffsy.com/). The others, and there were a lot, (as mainly any pic in the articles, too) only showed men in action.

            Maybe, our market is different, I don’t know. We don’t have that big discussion on using women as objects or sth. like that. But, on the other hand, it’s strange for people to see that a “real woman” (whatever they mean by saying that) loves cycling actively like I do.

            I’m afraid, you might not get the point unless you experienced what I do at regular basis.

            • ummm…

              I can’t say I’ve always felt comfortable walking into a bike shop because I DONT buy carbon fibre everything and at times can’t afford the hot stuff. I’d like to have a carbon fibre bike and i feel as if I’m dismmised because of my “cheaper” road bikes. We all have weights to carry. I dont dismiss yours. I think there is probably a lot of pink pandering and that sucks. But, i think those sort of things are promoted when women insist upon separate but equal – i.e. Ella. When the editors at CT ask us to reflect on Ella I always say it is detrimental to women because it doesn’t create an inclusive space but a separate space, and this pink pandering I think can happen when women are “female cyclists” and not just cyclists full stop.

              Could you wear mens stuff if they fit you? If so why dont you? I’m always curious if there is a massively different cut for women as opposed to men. Additionally, I find it very hard to find cycling clothes for myself because I am shorter with thicker thighs, not fat, just muscular. If I get a small it is too tiny for my thighs and bottom. If i get a big it is not as tight and runs long. I’m not the tall rail thin cyclists. Yet again we meet in our frustration with being overlooked by the industry. Also, I am interracial. We see how antagonistic the pro peloton has been to minorities and how little they invest in brown skinned continents. Another source for me to be upset about. Thing is, I like riding my bike – fast. I enjoy the community of people that like to ride with me. Just the other week I was invited to a ride full of Italians with fancy bikes and clothes. I would have thought that my bike, my nationality EVERYTHING would make me a target, but I have to live. TUrns out we all had a great time RIDING OUR BIKES. We can’t get passed this stuff unless we, well, just except what life is and set aside the things we cna’t change or are not worth worrying about. You are not in Saudi Arabia, you can ride a bike as a woman ALL you want.

              About those ads (altho Im’ sorry i couldnt quite follow your explanations of them) these things are meant to be aspirational or controversial to draw eyes. What ads in any sector are really responsible that respect us as consumers and dont sensationalize. There are tons of shows and ads on TV that protray men as dumb and feckless. I dont get upset, but I do notice that women are not up in arms about those as they are laughing along.

              I think I get your point more than you think I do. I also think that because I’m male I’ve been forced by society to find other ways of coping with certain topics. Also, I come from a family of strong successful women and I learned how to attack life and love it no matter what gender.

              • warnschild

                Oh, I’m very much at your side with the rejection of seperate space options. For example, there’s a “womens’ section” in a magazine I read sometimes, and in others, there are “womens’ inserts” to the magazine once in a while, and I do not support that. I prefer the inclusive strategy, even though to a certain extent, I do understand the practical advantage of seperate lets say rides, bike clinics etc. On the other hand, even then I’d prefer slow and fast average speed group rides to “male” vs. “female” ones (and the same not only for different sex, but also different age groups).

                Regarding my clothes and bike choice, I do not mind buying “male stuff” as long as it fits. Regarding trousers and jerseys, given that I have quite female proportions, I tried male-specific ones, but they don’t fit. I need a narrow waist and more space for hips and legs. Also, the pads are usually too big.

                It’s true what you say about the main thing being the opportunity to share the time on our bikes no matter what backround we may or may not have in common. I never doubted that but had to experience way too often, that some people have big problems with a woman riding strong, even more so when she’s riding old and heavy equipment and has only just taken up the sport while the persons in question have been riding for decades. But yes, I have long decided to ignore those and enjoy the company ot many others instead.

                Same also with regards to my family backround and experience: At home, no one ever doubted I could do what I wanted to do. That’s probably why I was so surprised to meet people who do make that difference much later in life.

                • ummm…

                  All great stuff to read. I think I have a lot to learn about womens apparel and equipment in cycling as I to easily assume that woman are being served properly. That is a correction I need to make. As for men that are antagonistic towards you, all I can say is that tehy DO NOT represent all men. There will always be ignorant people and I think that gender dynamics these days allow bad men to tar all men more than they allow bad women to tar all women. That is to say that a bad man will indict all men, but a bad woman will be seen as a one off. Although that could be my subjectivity talking. I do catch myself indicting all women when I really get on a roll about 3rd wave feminism. When I do that it is clearly wrong.

                  Thank you so much for engaging me in conversation. I have learned a good dead just by your willingness to enter into a dialogue. I really want cycling to be a welcoming place for you, but at the same time I dont think it is fair for us to expect the world to conform to our specific ideals. Cycling is as much your sport as it is mine. If the sport didnt have podium people, then to me it wouldnt matter. I just get a bit worried when subjectivity and gender dynamics encroach upon a sport.

                  • warnschild

                    :D You don’t have to learn about it unless you need it (womens’ apparel, for example). But I know that men have similar problems with sizing etc. Just take the jeans-for-big-quads matter…

                    You’re right that bad examples can have a big impact (but probably “bad” women as much as “bad” men) – if we let them. I try to not over-generalize.

                    I think I have found a good spot in cycling: Seeing things I personally (in my subjective evaluation of the situation ;-) ) want to change, I don’t have to abandon or force people to see it the same way. But I can let them know my opinion, share my thoughts, aks for changes (we just managed to have a womens’ race introduced lately to a race series by simply asking for it every year) and hope for the best. Also, I invite others to the sport and enjoy change were it happens.

                    • ummm…

                      i think that the footprint of women in competitive cycling NEEDS to be larger. Look at the womens world tour this year. SO exciting. The racing is fantastic. And, I know as a man this may be taken the wrong way, but there are some really attractive women in pro cycling. Women have been fawning over bernie eisel or whoever else for years, now I get to have my crushes!

                    • warnschild

                      Why should that be wrong? :)

                    • ummm…

                      no i know it isnt wrong. But as a man i do feel under pressure to stifle my human instincts. For example, you mentioned the experience of the female MTB and how her image was used and abused. I feel if i were to say outright that i have crushes on female cyclists that you would see it as misogynistic. Do you see the line that I have to walk. Because you have an emotional reaction to one thing and define it as a problem for women, then my reaction could represent all men in your mind, or represent a diminished admiration i have for a female cyclist because I also recognize her beauty. I dont want to step on any toes. Anyhow, I should also admit to a tiny man crush on bernie. Dreamy isnt he?

                    • warnschild

                      I can’t stop laughing. Maybe he is, I never realized. I might have reduced him to his abilities as a cyclist. Shame on me!

                    • ummm…

                      lmfao. yes stop looking at cyclists purely for their wins and start looking at them for their BUNS!

                    • warnschild

                      Right. But let’s not reduce them to buns. There’s so much more about them! Legs, torsos, arms (okay, NOT for Froome, poor lad, but there are others around), hands, sometimes even faces….

                    • ummm…

                      you forgot the sexiest part! The bike! I’d be happy to lend my ample thighs and buns to froome for just a couple of weeks on his pinarello. Why does that sound dirty? Oh dear.

          • warnschild
            • ummm…

              yeah the women appear to put on more of a show in their stance to the camera. there is more pink. i see a difference. And we can debate how that makes you feel. But, can we say that the colors and they composition of the picture causes harm to women that cycle? How is this HARMING our species?

              • warnschild

                I never talked about a materialised harm, rather an idealistic or mental one, kind of a mental frameset influencing the way people think and act. Those mental framesets, or “schemes of thought” are very strong and define to a large extent how far people dare to think and what they expect from themselves and others.

                I’m not sure if I can put that into the right words in English as it’s not my mother tongue.

                • ummm…

                  No i think you were VERY articulate in how you phrased that. Bravo. I completely agree that there are schemes of thought. What I fail to see, and what I hope you can show me, is that this mental frame set that podium women create in you is also created in all others, entails a certain harm, and is counter to our living free to express ourselves. It appears that you admit there is not materialized harm, so what is the harm if it only exists in the minds of those that are willing to see it in such a way. This juxtaposition between the material and ideal is very confusing especially as we can no longer speak about why this is wrong and the harm that is causes, but we now have to police the realm of ideas. Don’t you see the slippery slope in that?

                  • warnschild

                    Thanks :)

                    Let’s do it the other way ’round: Tell me why those women are there? What’s the point of it? Where can you see a benefit? To cycling? To us as viewers? Or to the racers?

                    You wrote about you being intercultural, and I take on the thread and talk about races and racism. To me, one could say a lot of that to a minority, too: ” It appears that you admit there is not materialized harm, so what is
                    the harm if it only exists in the minds of those that are willing to see
                    it in such a way” and also ask them what keeps them from “living free to express” themselves.

                    I do mind that, for example, we have a lot of citizens who originally stem from arabic countries over here, but in sports, you only see their men, but no women. It does no harm to me, but it is a symbol of a mindset I cannot approve of: They are certainly – in most cases – not forbidden from doing sports, but somehow they seem not to “see it in themselves”. So they don’t go to the gym, don’t sit on the bike, don’t play football. I’d love to see them there.

                    Or in my gym, I do mind that most women there don’t pursue “real training” which shows that they don’t feel strong and pursue a certain female ideal that doesn’t allow them to make a big effort, sweat and lift heavy.

                    No harm, no. But were’s the benefit?

                    • ummm…

                      I may have addressed this in the post that I just wrote above, but I’ll try to defend the position (even tho I dont see a “benefit” that jumps out)

                      I suppose these women are there because in moments of male triumph our cultural mythology says that women want the alpha male, and the male enjoys the attention.

                      I’m not sure if men feel that they have a “right” to women after winning. Keep in mind that women desire the winning man as well. Women aren’t going around nurturing the losers of the world, at least not intentionally. I do thank my girlfriend for the kindness she shows me every day, lol.

                      I think that we can hypothesize about the deep psychology of the podium celebration, but in the end I think it is a moment where the winner blushes in front an adoring crowd – a little “affection” from the opposite sex is just a gesture, a heightening of the spectacle, a celebration of triumph in all its forms and a nod to a more romantic time where life wasn’t so mechanical and the genders didn’t find slight around every corner.

                      What is the benefit? Hard to say. What would be lost if we didnt have it? I’m not sure we would “lose”. But, pretty people make for nice company, men or women. Maybe this has something to do with the difference in male and female relations. Women are emotional and dont put such emphasis on the visual. Men react to the visual with greater force. So, if you were to be put into a room with all attractive men, and I would be put into a room with all attractive women, we’d have a VERY different experience. You’d probably be able to compose yourself and maybe even get a date. I’d be frothing at the mouth wondering what feat of strength I could do to impress them :). So, lets imagine that a mans experience of an event is made more interesting when observing beauty because we are naturally visual. That isn’t to say that if you are at a podium celebration then you are in the middle of a group of men actively engaging in mental courtship, but we just like seeing pretty things more than women, or in the least we have a psychological/physiological reaction that is different than womens. And that reaction may endear us more to the spectacle of the sport. In fact being of the sex that is more visual is a burden. Women assume that we are pigs because we “lose it” a bit around attractive women, but imagine going through life constantly provoked by the human form and the efforts of women to be attractive. It is a burden, I assure you – albeit a small and enjoyable burden most of the time.

                      Its benefit to cycling may be that more beers and souvenirs are bought at racing events because men enjoy the spectacle and want to be part of it. I dont know.

                      As viewers, I get little to nothing out of it. I dont even like watching the podium presentation anyway – with our without podium people. No benefit or negative.

                      To the racers? I dunno. Is there a benefit? Is there a negative?

                      As for cultural differences. I’d be careful there. We should understand cultural differences (also im interracial not intercultural as culturally Im American, plain old american – for better or worse) and the role that time plays. Incidentally i think I saw an article in the last year where a mid east muslim country was fielding a womens cycling team for olympics trials. Albeit they had to wear full length jersey and bibs in the desert air so as not to offend cultural ideals but it was REALLY inspiring. As for women not pursuing “real training” I hear you. It upsets me greatly when women dont have the confidence or drive to push themselves – however what if these women dont want to build muscle mass, or what if they just dont like to be in pain. My girlfriend wont ride with me anymore because I get upset at her desire to use cycling to stay in shape, but refuses to put herself into the pain that it requires. Thankfully for BOTH of us she is in good shape, because only one person can get fat and I’m planning on that being me – women aren’t as visual you see and she will forgive me!

  • Jon Snow

    I have news for you Anne-Marije Rook: there is no such thing as a “heteronormative agenda”, there is no global conspiracy to disenfranchise women, let alone in cycling. Podium girls are an age old tradition and an integral part of the sport, the ladies are paid well and it is a highly sort after job. The integration of podium boys is a nice addition, it spreads equality. Men get to enjoy a harmless kiss on the podium, now women do too. Implying it is a “heteronormative agenda” is paranoid and irrational, social justice warriors like you need to take a proper look at yourselves.

    • Vanya


    • ummm…

      dude, im not for the uproar. In fact I disagree with this article and with the opinion that podium girls/men are violence. However, for you to say that podium people are INTEGRAL to the sport is beyond ridiculous.

  • Burt Fleming

    What a sour attitude! What is awful here is someone not allowing men and women from doing what they want! If they are good looking or beautiful and they enjoy being podium models, why shouldn’t they be allowed? This is how they support the sport, why must it be demeaned? They take the time out of their lives to be there. They stand around with smiles on their faces, posing for pictures, they are there all day to help add to an event, only to be belittled for their efforts.

    Why not belittle fellow female cyclists that pose in provocative photos? Are they somehow pushing the sport forward? If Ann would use a bit more chamois cream, she might be able to pull the enormous bug that is stuck up her ass!

    • Vanya

      A LOT more chamois cream.

  • Gustavo Cinci

    This is perfect – the job here is done, as the result of this “controversy” has spurred discussion, reflection and analysis. There is *no* way every single person will be satisfied with podium dudes or podium girls, but in addressing this matter, we should address other points being brought here. for one, with the growth of the sport and (merited) recognition and parity of women’s cycling, organizers are doing their best to provide a common theme (podium kiss to the winners) while nodding to the sport’s tradition of rewarding the winner w affection and recognition. Remember, cycling is one of the oldest sports out there. Then you have the sponsors; say, a particular sponsor, like a clothing manufacturer for the masses heavily endorses the event. So it’s only natural to have the models wearing the clothes during the award ceremony. Remember that without sponsors, bye bye cycling. The jerseys awarded must also be visible, as it’s part of the event and the jerseys are made by a technical manufacturer that has paid heavily to have its wares featured on the podium. Someone has to present them, right? So there you go. I think it’s bizarre to have podium dudes, but it’s because i grew up with the sport and have gotten used to ladies on the podium. But i don’t think it’s out of character, or that it demeans or cheapens the event. If anything, it promotes conversation and discussion. The guys look good and behave appropriately – like the podium girls – so even though it might seem bizarre, we should keep an open mind and welcome change. As the sport grows further, those and many other issues are being discussed and addressed, more people get involved, and the “democratization” finds its way across the board.

    • ummm…

      great comment. balanced. disinterested at the right times.

  • Andge

    Juniors would be so great! I definitely don’t understand why we feel the need to objectify anyone, man or woman.

  • david__g

    Amazing how many men here like looking at podium women (they’re not girls as they appear to be over 17) so therefore in their simplistic and illogical world there is nothing wrong with it. Outdated, ridiculous concept that serves no purpose other than to give some blokes something to gawp at. Perhaps when we finally get rid of podium women, Pez Cycling will finally get rid of their awful ‘Daily Distractions’ bullshit too.

    • ummm…

      is the presence of beauty on the podium indicative of a mass violence? It appears by the dialogue that we have, that won’t die, that we believe this tiny experience of human existence as being indicative of gender violence. THe world is full of beautiful things. If i was organizing an event maybe I wouldnt have them, but what is the harm? The harm is ONLY one that is perceived by the individual. Big deal. Our actors are beautiful. Beautiful people get benefits others dont etc. etc. The spectrum of beauty is wide ranging in our species. That is a fact. Trying to say beauty can never play a role anywhere is fascist and sounds a bit bitter.

  • alicatado

    I’m right with you, Anne-Marije. Interesting how the aggression on this forum comes from men (who have missed the point), again.

    • Nathan

      Agreed. It constantly amazes me that the same few male commenters (and one apparently female) keep pushing the same tired and simplistic line… it’s all a bit of fun and no harm to anyone. Sure, if it was the only ‘bit of fun’ in the sporting world, but it is in addition to inequality of pay and opportunity, consistent sexism (see the advertising for some recent womens races) and male dominent team and governing body management. When you add these things together they really show cycling to be a backwards sport with regressive traditions. With that in mind, I am all for removing podium ‘girls’ (the use of the diminutive is another example of sexism) and replacing them with kids , dignitaries etc. Those who feel compelled to spit hate (Burt, Vanya that’s you) at someone with a differing opinion should be ashamed of themselves.

      • ummm…

        I think you are inferring way to much from the presence of attractive podium people. I’ve just had a wonderful conversation with a female cyclist on this thread. I’d like you to read it and add to it if you have the time.

    • ummm…

      I think you are inferring way to much from the presence of podium people. I’ve just had a wonderful conversation with a female cyclist on this thread. I’d like you to read it and add to it if you have the time.

  • ummm…

    I see the argument Anne is making and I appreciate the even hand. However, my stance was never against podium women so I can’t be against podium men. I dont think their existence diminishes humanity, our interrelations, or our sexual/gendered lives at all. The presence of beauty, even if it is only to be present and nothing else, is not offensive to me. If somebody was to touch their bottoms that would enter into a grey area and most of the time, if not all, it would NOT be proper.

    Is it analogous to the existence of Ella? While inclusivity is the goal of Ella by this logic would we not be more served if we just had one site that captured everything, just as we may rather have a homogeneous podium celebration where we had just flowers? Maybe Im stretching.

    I think all this discussion obscures the fact that we are all cyclists. How much of cycling involves these discussions, or how much of cycling journalism involves highlighting this perceived conflict? What do we achieve by saying in this one small sector of humanity beauty can’t be on display beside triumph? What does the podium men say to the readers? To many women it says, FINALLY! So in the end what was the argument about? Podium women, or podium people? It appears that females dont mind “objectification”, however I’m not sure this instance should carry the heavy weight of such a word. And i can’t see the harm in it here.

  • Derek Maher

    I like to see a nice presentation ceremony and have no problems with either well turned out women or men presenting flowers and a kiss on the cheek to the sports people on the podium. Its been a long tradition in the sport. I would suggest that it does not demean the sports athletes in anyway. If some women have problems with the sport they should concentrate on the real issue’s. Better media coverage, More investment in teams and races which could lead to decent team contracts for riders so all pro women racers benefit and don’t have to work part time on other jobs to earn a living wage.


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