Cycle racing Image management Professional cycling Women cycling

Podium girls are outdated

imageI know this will probably not be a popular post with traditionalists, but I’m of the view that podium girls at men’s professional cycling races belong in another era and need to go. For me this topic is very top-of-mind because my partner Phillip and I are currently following the Tour de France in a campervan and I write this from the foothills of the great Pyrenees.

The use of pretty women on podiums is demeaning to all women. It says that women are there just to look good in photographs, and to compliment the athleticism of men. I know that women line up for the privilege of standing beside a man on the podium. Apparently 500 apply every year. Most are models who see it as an opportunity to get a break and perhaps to travel around France for three weeks. I’m not trying to say that these women are worthless, but they are putting themselves forward as trophies not human beings.

When Peter Sagan pinched one of them on the derriere a few years ago I actually thought it was pretty funny. To me he was pointing out how stupid the role of podium girl actually is to many people. Instead it was interpreted as rudeness and he was forced to apologise to her. Maybe we take it all a bit too seriously.

And maybe I’m taking it all too seriously as well. But in an era when women’s sport struggles to get any recognition, perhaps doing away with this outdated tradition and organising more parallel women’s pro cycle races alongside the men’s, would be a better use of our energy.


  1. Wow, youre there. I bet youre having a ball. We did that the year Cadel won. Such great memories. Enjoy. On podium girls, I agree. I recall my first (and only) time at Bathurst car races, where I was appalled by the role those girls played. Why do you need the kiss of a podium girl for a winners photo?

  2. I totally agree. Its sport sexualised. Surely the companies that sponsor could be up there or maybe even some of the volunteers etc could stand beside them and get some thanks and accolade!

  3. I’m a bit torn-I do see your point. However, I enjoy the podium presentation, and would love to be one of those women, especially when Sagan is present. This 46 year old thinks he’s just a doll, and can pinch my behind anytime! I appreciate the tradition and love how stylish [and modest] these women always look, I began to notice on Sunday that not all the women featured are rail thin, anorexic model types. There are women who want to represent their gender in this way rather than on the playing field or race track. I don’t think that should be taken away from them, nor do I think it keeps women’s sports from moving forward. I have become an avid follower of the Tour in the last few years, and honestly if these women want to stand next to the smelly-sweaty men-who am I to take that joy away!

  4. Nice column Nicola. My comment is that the Tour organisers do a stylish job when any comparison is made with motor racing. The models at the tour are beautifully turned out and still add something to the presentation, whereas the girls at motor racing and boxing have really hit their use-by date. Ideally, women’s cycling and other professional sports will continue their growth in popularity and subsequent media attention will push this issue into the history books. Blogs like this are an important part of the process.

  5. I thought it was hysterical when Sagan did the bum pinch.. i think people are way too uptight and trying to be politically correct too much.

  6. Totally agree 100%. It’s senseless and unnecessary. Also alienating to women who enjoy watching the sport. As an aside, would love to read a blog post about your tour planning and experience for anyone considering doing it too.

  7. Absolutely agree with you Nicola, trophies not human beings who make up half of the world’s citizens. Having female races or events to complement the T de F is a great idea. I havent watched the T de France for a few years and I was surprised to see this ‘gender ornamentation’ still existing.

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