The Times reports that the Tour de France is considering following the lead of other races in abandoning the tradition of employing podium hostesses.
While some see podium hostesses and the staged kiss on the cheek given to victorious riders as cycling traditions, others feel it is a dated feature of the sport that merely objectifies women.
Darts recently stopped using ‘walk-on’ girls and Formula 1 is ditching its ‘grid girls’ and many have been asking whether cycling might make a similar move.
Last year’s Tour Down Under saw stage winners and jersey holders greeted by junior cyclists instead of podium hostesses following a decision by the South Australian Government.
The Vuelta a Espana subsequently announced that it was doing away with the cheek kissing and would also be introducing podium hosts to correct the gender imbalance.
"We are not eliminating the hostesses altogether. We are not getting rid of those jobs. What we don't want is the usual photo of a winner getting a kiss on each cheek," said Laura Cueto Morillo of Vuelta race owners Unipublic.
Last year AG2R-La Mondiale rider Jan Bakelants apologised for "inappropriate" remarks made about Tour de France podium hostesses during an interview.
Asked what he planned to take along for his free moments during the race, the Belgian answered: “A packet of condoms, for sure. You never know where those podiummissen [podium hostesses] hang out.”
Spanish cyclist Mikel Landa has been among the riders to speak out against the practice, telling El Correo newspaper: “Hostesses are surplus to requirements on the podium; it is like treating them as mere objects.”