Podium girls are a long-standing tradition in cycling. Officially known as “hostesses”, these models present and assist race winners with their jerseys and trophies before planting a ceremonial kiss on their cheeks. Yet the use of hostesses has been met with an increasing amount of disdain year in, year out due to the objectifying nature of these women’s roles and the continued display of women in sports as trophy holders instead of athletes themselves.
Some races like Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Norway and La Course have replaced podium girls with podium boys for the women’s cycling events, but that was received with no less controversy.
For years, fans have called on race organisers to follow in the footsteps of sports like tennis and soccer where awards are presented by junior athletes. And in a similar trend to modernise practices, motorsports have been moving away from their use of hostesses — commonly called “grid girls” — as well.
La Vuelta and the Santos Tour Down Under were among the first big cycling events to end the use of podium girls, stating that it was an outdated practice and sends the wrong message. Organisers of the Tour of Flanders echoed that sentiment last week when they announced they were “modernising” their ceremony and ending the use of ‘flower girls’.
Other races have been pressured to follow suit and ASO, the organisers of the Tour, are reportedly in talks to put an end to their century-old tradition of podium hostesses ahead of this year’s event, which kicks of on July 7. Official announcement to follow soon.