World cycling's governing body says it is "extremely unhappy" with publicity for Belgian race ...

A controversial poster promoting next month’s UCI WorldTour race, Belgian classic the E3 Harelbeke, is to be pulled after complaints that it was sexist and demeaned women, with the sport’s global governing saying it was “extremely unhappy” with it.

As we reported on Monday, the publicity material referenced the moment two years ago when runner-up Peter Sagan pinched the bottom of a podium hostess as she kissed E3 Harelbeke winner Fabian Cancellara on the cheek.

It showed a hand, complete with cycling mitt, apparently about to touch a women’s bottom and posed the question, “Who’ll squeeze them in Harelbeke?”

The poster was widely criticised on social media including Twitter and in a statement issued this afternoon, the UCI said it “was extremely unhappy with the promotional poster of the 2015 E3 Harelbeke.”

The governing body added: “We have reminded the organiser of its responsibility and the UCI Regulations and they have agreed to take off the poster from all communication platforms.”

The race organisers seemed more equivocal on Twitter this afternoon, saying: “After the commotion caused by the launch of the new banner the board will decide tomorrow on the further course of the campaign.”

Several hours after the UCI's announcement was published, the offending poster was still the banner image on the race's Twitter page.

For some, though, the UCI's action was too little too late, with this tweet contrasting the time taken to announce the poster would be pulled with the speed with which the organisation distanced itself from poor TV coverage of Thomas Dekker's attempt on the Hour record this evening,



Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.