Podium boys and equal prize money for women’s race at Tour de France finale in Paris

Live TV coverage in more than 100 countries, Vos and Armiststead among those battling for €22,500 payday

by Simon_MacMichael   April 30, 2014  

Marianne Vos wins 2013 road worlds (picture credit Toscana 2013)

The woman who this July wins the inaugural edition of La Course – the race ASO have launched to coincide with the climax in Paris of the Tour de France – will receive kisses from podium boys, as well as the same prize money as the man who wins the final stage of the Tour several hours later.

The 90-kilometre race will feature 120 riders, with world and Olympic champion Marianne Vos and London 2012 silver medallist and current World Cup leader Lizzie Armitstead among those targeting victory – and with it, prize money of €22,500.

Covering 13 laps of the same Champs-Elysées circuit that will host the finale of the Tour in the evening, the event is set to enjoy two hours of live TV coverage in more than 100 countries around the world, reports the Guardian.

ASO says that it will result in be the biggest exposure women’s road cycling has ever had outside the Olympic Games, something that could attract more sponsors to the sport which exists on a shoestring budget compared to the male version

In a statement, ASO said: "Those who make it on to the podium can look forward to kisses from podium boys!"

The race was announced earlier this year following the Le Tour Entier campaign launched in 2013 by cyclists including Vos and former world time trial champion Emma Pooley, who this month revealed that she was earning more in prize money from her “hobby” sports of triathlon and marathon running than she ever had from cycling.

Vos, who was named patron of the race at its official launch in Paris yesterday, said: "We need a showcase and one has been provided for us. I'm delighted that Amaury Sport Organisation have understood and provided what we need."

Armitstead is currently the runaway leader of the UCI Women World Cup standings, having won one and finished second in three of the four races so far held in the nine-race series.

However, the Boels-Dolmans rider, the current British national road champion, said this week in an interview published on thetour.co.uk ahead of next month’s inaugural edition of the Women’s Tour that the World Cup is not her priority this season.

"It funny how it goes but the World Cup itself wasn't really a target at all, although we had our eyes on one of two of the races in particular, and yet it has gone very well so far,” she explained.

“The Commonwealth Games and the World Championships  are strong personal goals this season the Women's Tour and the La Course one day race on the last day of the Tour de France, which finishes on the Champs Elysees, are going to be very big and high profile events for my team Boels Dolmans.

"There are no plans yet to change my programme so I will race an abbreviated World Cup schedule and if that is enough to win the title, all well and good.

"I certainly won't be going to China, which starts just a couple of days after the Women's Tour which became a big priority for me as soon as it was announced and then I will definitely miss another round when the Commonwealth Games are on. The road race in Glasgow is a big target although racing in La Course will rule out any track racing

She added:  "I've been pretty vocal in my support for women's cycling being treated properly and on an equal footing with the men so obviously am very excited about the Women's Tour. I am totally behind what the organisers are doing and the ethics behind the race if you like but as we get closer, being a racer, my focus is simply on the race itself and how we can perform best as a team.”

31 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

So very, very wrong. Podium boys aren't the answer - getting rid of podium girls is. No place for it. It's not boxing c. 1982 you know.

posted by andyp [1075 posts]
30th April 2014 - 20:30

34 Likes

Prize money. About bloody time, it is the 21st century.

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [216 posts]
30th April 2014 - 20:43

11 Likes

Gkam84 wrote:
.....I am all for equal prize money...BUT, how can 90 km racing be compared with the last stage of a 3 week race.....

It's not for a whole race, it's for just the one stage and at the same rate that the men get for the equivalent stage. They're being paid for the win not the 89.5km that goes before it, again the same as the men.

About time too. The only way to raise the profile of women's racing is to put it on the same stage as the men's.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [628 posts]
30th April 2014 - 21:19

21 Likes

Equal money is right, but what I meant is, how can you compare a one day 90km race to a a 138km race which comes one the back of 3,518km's that the men have already covered.

The reason that prize money for the stages of the TdF is high, is because the race is one of the toughest in Pro cycling.

But it will get the best racers from the best teams attending, so I guess it is all good

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9040 posts]
1st May 2014 - 0:39

9 Likes

Hmmm, so yesterdays Romandie result and last years Milan San Remo should be derided too, yes? I don't think that anybody thinks that this IS a TdF for women, just a small step, but an important one. Check out the coverage of Fleche Wallone on Monday afternoon (BBC Red Button). The racing is equally as good as the mens. The ladies require more recognition. Have a read of a few Rouleur back issues too, they have had interviews with Lizzie Armitstead & Helen Wyman in the last few months. They paint a sorry picture for Pro Womens Cycling, but are fighting for equality and fair recognition. Next weeks Womens Tour if Britain (www.womenstour.co.uk) should be celebrated as it isn't being ridden 'on the back of' a mens race, but is a stand alone event. I hope that the public come out & show their support in the same way as they would if Wiggins or Cavendish were racing.

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [216 posts]
1st May 2014 - 3:57

15 Likes

I don't feel that the length of the stage is an issue. The important thing here is that women's cycling is getting exposure and this is a vital first step. It's short and measured because then the casual viewer or spectator is likely to take notice and gradually get used to the notion of women's cycling.

The podium boys thing is obviously a riposte to the complaints received about the podium girls and simply says 'Why not?'.

I don't think podium girls should be done away with -look at the Amstel Gold girls with their beer mat dresses which proves it can be done tastefully and with a bit of fun and local heritage thrown in.

stenmeister's picture

posted by stenmeister [76 posts]
1st May 2014 - 7:39

11 Likes

andyp wrote:
Podium boys aren't the answer - getting rid of podium girls is.

Could not agree with this more.

Oddly enough, I think Peter Sagan's pinch on the ar$e from last season (I think) was kind of helpful insofar as it held the whole podium girl process up to the ridicule it deserves.

posted by surly_by_name [177 posts]
1st May 2014 - 11:01

16 Likes

Jesus... what is so wrong with a bit of objectification in the right setting?

Pretty girls are... pretty. Who doesn't like looking at pretty girls? Its certainly better than a random old crusty man giving away flowers and stuff.

Why does it all have to be so bloody PC all the time. I say good on the TDF for getting podium boys in.

Podium buys are pretty, who doesn't like looking at pretty podium boys?

Oh and its great about the money too, but more important is the international promotion of women's cycle racing. Good times for the ladies... I'd love to get the chance to race down that avenue with those crowds.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [354 posts]
1st May 2014 - 11:29

5 Likes

On a separate note... I'm going to start moaning about lack of money in men's professional cycling... clearly it works.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [354 posts]
1st May 2014 - 11:31

8 Likes

Sod that we want podium boys!

Girls who do podiums enjoy what they do, if they want to do that as a job I see no harm. It's like being anti-porn, if porn stars want to do what they do then fine, a job shouldn't be made taboo because of what it is - it's poor attitudes towards it that are the problem (i.e. where Sagan felt it necessary to pinch the girls bum.....funny but not cool, she's just doing her job). For the most part people see podium girls for what they are, they help out and they enjoy what they do, and people like them being there - no harm done until someone acts like a goon.

Likewise if there's lads wanting to do the same for a ladies podium then why not? It's a bit of fun and it's a nice touch that we're getting some equal totty!

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
1st May 2014 - 11:35

12 Likes

Podium boys is a brilliant idea.

What women's cycling needs is attention and in big numbers and this is a big helper.

"We're having a race for females"

Ok, cool.

"We're having a race for females, on the Champs Elysees, on the final day of the men's race"

Right then, that's got the interest sparked in people moderately in to cycling or just casual observers of the Tour.

"We're having a race for females, on the Champs Elysees, on the final day of the men's race and instead of podium females we are having podium boys"

Wow, that's unusual right? Non-cycling fans suddenly get drawn in, first timers might tune in to watch because they're aware of it being something different and hopefully it will "stick" for many and they become fans.

Are podium boys the future of female cycling? No.

Is anyone suggesting that podium boys are the future of cycling? Absolutely not.

Are they providing another talking point and generating column inches for this race? Absofuckinglutely. A brilliant extra tool to entice people in.

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
1st May 2014 - 11:37

19 Likes

Jimmy Ray Will wrote:
Jesus... what is so wrong with a bit of objectification in the right setting?

It's just that I don't feel that professional cycling is the "right setting". There are (I am told) lots of specialist websites that allow you to do objectification perfectly well in the privacy of your own home (a more appropriate setting).

posted by surly_by_name [177 posts]
1st May 2014 - 11:38

12 Likes

surly_by_name wrote:
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:
Jesus... what is so wrong with a bit of objectification in the right setting?

It's just that I don't feel that professional cycling is the "right setting". There are (I am told) lots of specialist websites that allow you to do objectification perfectly well in the privacy of your own home (a more appropriate setting).

I think you may be confusing objectification with masturbation there. Podium girls are doing a job, it makes sense that the person doing that job should be pretty, because generally, people prefer to look at pretty things rather than ugly.

I don't imagine anyone strokes one out whilst looking at Cancellara getting a bunch of flowers... Correction: I hope no one strokes one out whilst looking at Cancellara receiving a bouquet of flowers.

In all seriousness, what makes pro cycling podiums less appropriate then any other sporting or indeed commercial setting for podium girls to exist?

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [354 posts]
1st May 2014 - 12:47

11 Likes

'In all seriousness, what makes pro cycling podiums less appropriate then any other sporting or indeed commercial setting for podium girls to exist? '

Nothing. Inappropriate in all such settings. Many sports have already abandoned this...why does cycling insist on continuing?

posted by andyp [1075 posts]
1st May 2014 - 12:53

7 Likes

To be honest, he doesn't even need to be getting a bunch of flowers...

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
1st May 2014 - 12:58

11 Likes

Gkam84 wrote:
Equal money is right, but what I meant is, how can you compare a one day 90km race to a a 138km race which comes one the back of 3,518km's that the men have already covered.

The reason that prize money for the stages of the TdF is high, is because the race is one of the toughest in Pro cycling.

But it will get the best racers from the best teams attending, so I guess it is all good

It is all good. The thing is the women would really like this to be the final stage of a proper Tour Feminin, but it's a start.

posted by pwake [313 posts]
1st May 2014 - 13:02

7 Likes

farrell wrote:

Are they providing another talking point and generating column inches for this race? Absofuckinglutely. A brilliant extra tool to entice people in.

Nail on the head there! It seems to be doing just that, which can only be a good thing! Smile

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
1st May 2014 - 13:15

7 Likes

I think podium boys will either result in equal totty, or people will say "er, ok maybe it's ridiculous, just stop already, both sexes"

Slightly off-topic, but I have been offered the job, handsome chap that I am! Cool Liar Liar I shall attend in just a pair of speedos!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3474 posts]
1st May 2014 - 13:46

6 Likes

A swimsuit-clad lovely (or 'hunk') could wander around holding a 'Stage 2' board above her (/his) head, before the riders start slamming each other to the ground whilst the crowd chant 'Easy! Easy!'. Maybe breaking balsawood chairs over each others' heads too. They've already got the costumes sorted.

posted by andyp [1075 posts]
1st May 2014 - 13:53

5 Likes

Gkam84 wrote:
I am all for equal prize money...BUT, how can 90 km racing be compared with the last stage of a 3 week race.....

Apparently ladies races are restricted to 100km a day by the UCI, now that's an injustice! Come on Mr Cookson, abolish another daft rule, please and thank you.

posted by kitkat [228 posts]
1st May 2014 - 13:58

14 Likes

I'd love to be a podium boy, it's probably my best chance of getting my hands on a Credit Lyonnais lion.

I've always wanted one of those.

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
1st May 2014 - 14:00

7 Likes

kitkat wrote:
Gkam84 wrote:
I am all for equal prize money...BUT, how can 90 km racing be compared with the last stage of a 3 week race.....

Apparently ladies races are restricted to 100km a day by the UCI, now that's an injustice! Come on Mr Cookson, abolish another daft rule, please and thank you.

I think its a spot more nowdays (120-140 I think?) - even still it's definitely a farce that they're not even allowed to do 100 miles!

Although it *can* be a good thing, ladies racing is a lot more attacking and aggressive than mens because of the shorter distances, it makes it a brilliant sport to watch.

I've love to see a long stage race for the ladies though! At the moment they barely get anything over 5 days.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
1st May 2014 - 14:16

9 Likes

farrell wrote:
Are they providing another talking point and generating column inches for this race? Absofuckinglutely. A brilliant extra tool to entice people in.

There's any number of socially and morally reprehensible things that they could put on to generate column inches if that's the only aim (dwarf throwing, bear baiting, just to pick two less extreme examples). Or what about requiring the women (lets call them "ladies" to crank up the heat) compete naked and exclude any of them who are deemed to be unattractive by a competition run in the Daily Mail in the week leading up to the event. These would provide a talking point and generate column inches. Wouldn't make them a good idea.

I think podium girls are in poor taste. (As someone with something of an interest in the subject, I think they send a very poor message to girls.) I am happy to watch cycle sport without them. I don't see how two wrongs (podium girls and podium boys) make a right.

posted by surly_by_name [177 posts]
1st May 2014 - 15:13

10 Likes

....and Vos can pinch some male booty!

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
1st May 2014 - 15:59

5 Likes

Perhaps the podium boys will provide a fresh perspective on how bizarre and unnecessary the concept of 'getting pretty people to kiss you for being good at sport' is.

I'm not too sad that the podium boys are going to some ceremonies in; no more sad than when I see the podium girls at every bloody men's ceremony ever, but I'd quite like to see the whole thing retired reasonably soon.

There just seems such an uncomfortable contrast between the people who are on the podium for great sporting achievements and effort, and those who are there simply because they were simply deemed 'pretty enough'.

But of the options between 'providing podium boys for the Women's finish', 'not providing anyone for the Women's finish', 'providing podium girls for the Women's finish', and 'suddenly scrapping all podium girls from all future Men's races... for the Women's finish', I think the first option is the most balanced and achievable. It's not a huge issue, but as I've said, I think it's quite unnecessary and odd, so I'd like to see the whole thing phased out fairly soon.

In short; I don't really support the idea of 'podium people', but I think it'd be a bit imbalanced to suddenly get into a frenzy about it, just as soon males started getting drawn into it. Two wrongs don't make a right, but the biggest wring would be to promote that 'objectification if fine with one sex but not with the other'. Ideally it'd be phased out of both, but I think that'd take a while and happen on a race by race basis, so this feels like the fairest 'place-holder'. It's a bit of a tricky position to argue, but I feel that condoning 'podium people' with only one of the sexes would be the biggest wrong of all.

EDIT: Okay, that wasn't short. I just feel slightly anxious about voicing such a seemingly contradictory opinion. So I've over-explained... I hope it makes some sense!

posted by Quince [208 posts]
1st May 2014 - 16:16

6 Likes

Where do I apply to be a podium boy? What a great job having to kiss lizzie armitsted:-)

posted by balmybaldwin [46 posts]
1st May 2014 - 16:31

7 Likes

They don't have podium girls in the Oxford Cambridge boat race - I hear it's so they don't have to kiss the Cox of the winning team.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
1st May 2014 - 17:10

10 Likes

Although it is a difficult one, it is all about the ceremony, every time you remove something from the podium presentation, the less it feels like an occasion.
I know we're all more interested in watching the race, but to step onto the top of a podium with all the pomp and ceremony should be a pretty special experience, worthy of the effort you've put in, both on the day and in the years of hard work and sacrifice. Most Pro's don't see that top step very often. The podium girls are an integral part of this ceremony, along with the flowers, trophies etc.
If you take too much away, it'll end up like a circuit race at Castle Combe, where everyone just goes home afterwards and waits for the results to pop up on BC. Sad

posted by tomilett [6 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 11:13

4 Likes

posted by surly_by_name [177 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 14:25

3 Likes

Jimmy Ray Will wrote:
On a separate note... I'm going to start moaning about lack of money in men's professional cycling... clearly it works.

Are you aware of how little prize money is given to women pro cyclists??? Pennies, and that is if they are lucky! And this is at world event level. It really is shockingly bad.

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [216 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 15:31

3 Likes