Another sexism row has hit the world of cycling. Organisers of the Tour de France are demanding an apology from Belgian rider Jan Bakelants for comments he made about the “podium girls” at the event.
In an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, Bakelants was asked what he would be taking with him to compete in the prestigious competition. “A packet of condoms, for sure,” he said, “you never know where those podium [hostesses] hang out.”
Director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, has said that Bakelants’ team, AG2R La Mondiale, will be contacted for an official apology. Speaking to Reuters, the team said, “We have seen this interview and the answers of Jan Bakelants, who certainly wanted to be humorous, but in the present case it was very bad taste. We apologise to the organisers and to those who may have been offended by this remark.”
The presence of so-called podium girls at the competition is a contentious issue in itself, and one that demeans a sport that is supposed to be tackling sexism. Earlier this year, cyclists Lizzie Armitstead and Jess Varnish called out British Cycling for systemic sexism after a leaked review of the sport found a culture of “fear and bullying”.