Dubai: Changing times have ushered in a change in thinking with the Tour de France voting in favour of no longer using two ‘podium girls’ to assist — and kiss — stage winners and jersey winners after each stage of the race.
Starting this year, cycling’s top event will use just one female and one male host to participate in the podium protocols, while the number of other guests on stage will also be reduced.
The 2020 Tour de France will be the 107th edition of the annual race that is one of cycling’s three Grand Tours. Originally scheduled to start on June 27, the race was postponed until August 29 due to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.
Held over 21 stages, and organised by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the Tour de France will cover 3,470km before its customary finish at the Champs-Elysees on September 20.
The 2020 Tour de France is expected to consist of 22 teams with all 19 UCI WorldTeams obliged to enter the event along with another three — Arkea-Samsic, B&B Hotels-Vital Concept and Tour Direct Energie — invited to participate in the event.
“Perhaps, we’ve been used to having the riders on the podium assisted by two hostesses. But, things are going to be different now as for the first time we will use just one local dignitary and one jersey partner along with one hostess and one host,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme said.
The Tour de France has had the practice of two women presenting flowers and sponsors’ cuddly toys to the riders at the race. Both women then simultaneously kiss the riders on both cheeks, a move that has been continually denounced as “sexist and old-fashioned”.
In fact, in 2019 there was a petition that raised more than 38,000 signatures agreeing that women “are not objects or rewards”. Formula One too has been in the mix with the practice of using ‘grid girls’ being stopped since 2018.
From the looks, it would appear that Tour organisers ASO have listened to what has become the opinion of many, and will instead use one man and one woman to assist the riders with the podium protocol for the stage winners and the classification-jersey holders, while the numbers of local dignitaries and sponsor representatives will also be reduced from five each to just one along with a partner.
“Yes, it’s new, but we’ve already been doing it this way at some of our other races, like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, for 20 years,” Prudhomme said, referring to the Belgian Monument race that is also organised by ASO.