Tour Down Under kills podium girls. It that a crime?

Is this the podium girl future?

Is this the podium girl future?

No podium girls at the Tour Down Under. Opinions are mixed on the move — it it old school and sexist or are we just over-thinking the political correctness thing? Some call the NFL the No Fun League for cracking down on player celebrations. Is pro cycling also riding down the No Fun Highway?

Let me put it this way: I’m not interested in looking at any podium photo without a beautiful, smiling young woman with a bottle of champagne, flowers and a kiss for the winner. Dull shot otherwise, devoid of interest, falling asleep.

I love all the dramatic race photography and nothing brings me closer to the action, suffering, beauty and inspiring performances. But a podium shot without podium girls? Don’t even bother sending the photographer.

I have a young daughter. I know all about role models. I see the inequities and discrimination and a disrespectful United States president that treats women as sex objects. Check all those boxes.

That said, I’m 100% in agreement with the opinion of BMC’s Peter Stetina. “It’s part of cycling. I don’t think it’s sexist, unless the organizer dresses up the girl provocatively,” said Trek – Segafredo’s Peter Stetina. “The problem is when you get that jock mentality and it’s vulgar. I think they should remain. If I win a race someday, I’d love to get the flowers and the kisses on the cheek. It’s a celebration.”

Remember those great podium shots down in those desert races (that nobody in the desert watches) of arab sheiks handing out trophies and congratulating the winners? Dull. Disappointing. Low on celebration factor.

Of course women can’t do much of anything in those cultures, whether it’s become a scientist or a podium girl. They have there own set of cultural issues. Point is, boring podium photos. Zero interest, eyes glaze over, another dumb idea for cycling. Here’s a big idea: worry about dopers, not podium girls.

I’d rather go the other way. Sexy, handsome podium boy-toys for the Women’s races. Fair is fair. Kisses, flowers and champagne for everyone. Nothing wrong with that.

By the way, have you seen the podium girls at the Tour de France? They’re classy, elegant, haute couture. We’re not talking about tacky or demeaning or crass. And, of course, they speak French and some have even read the great works of Balzac, de Maupassant and Camus.

Let’s think about the riders for a moment, shall we?

First, it’s damn difficult to win a bike race these days. Competition has never been so extreme. The sacrifices, training loads and suffering have never been higher. Are you going to tell riders that they’ll be celebrating up on the podium with a mid-level political functionary — head of dairy farmers association, assistant mayor in charge of sanitation and public works? That sounds needlessly cruel to me. Where is the pomp, the pageantry?

Second, again putting the riders first, where else are they going to find some nice girl to marry? Ask George Hincapie how happy he is with his wife, a former Tour de France podium hostess?

These guys are rootless, moving from race to race, far from home, no friends around. How will they meet a nice girl and settle down if not up on stage with a formal introduction? Are we so callous that we would destroy the time honored dating system of pro cycling? How are you going to explain that to the younger riders in the peloton?

Sorry guys, we’re not doing anything about dangerous race motorcycles or exposed steel poles on the final corner of the sprint finish and, by the way, no podium girls.

So we’re backing Stetina on this crucial issue of podium girls. The Tour Down Under is taking cycling down a sad, unattractive and lonely road. Really, what’s next in this world ruled by algorithms and robots?

Oh yeah, robot podium girls. Well, they always called David Brailsford’s riders the Sky-bots. Soon, perhaps, they will have high tech podium-bots to hold the champagne and flowers and provide a cold kiss on the cheek.

Really can’t wait.

 

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