How the hell … are podium girls still a thing?

It’s How the hell … Wednesday and it’s all about the the podium.

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PDC Darts will no longer be using attractive walk-on girls to escort their fine athletes into the arena. Nor will Formula 1 have grid girls holding umbrellas over sensitive-skinned millionaire speed-freaks.

But recent podium pictures show there’s no ban on the use of decorative females in our beloved cycling. Sure, some races are moving on to do other things (Paris-Roubaix last year had little children escorting the riders to the podium, for instance), but more often than not, your TV coverage finishes with two podium girls planting a smacker on each cheek of the winner.

Have a look at the Volta a Algarve:

And some Colombian action:

Just this week a Belgian race hosted a launch event which featured women gyrating in skimpy cowgirl outfits – if you can figure out the relevance to a minor classic, please let me know. What I am confident of is that the flesh display isn’t sending out an inclusive image of bike racing.

So should there be a “ban” on podium girls? Would removing them spoil anyone’s appreciation of any cycling race? Pro cycling isn’t in the rudest of health with races and teams disappearing every year so this isn’t the time to cling to tradition but a moment when the sport should be reaching as wide as possible. Be inclusive, not sex-exclusive.

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If the only women we see as part of the proceedings in men’s cycling are decorative, what message is received by a young girl watching the sport – or female cycling fans of any age? When did you last hear a female announcer at a men’s race? What about the person hanging out the sunroof of a Skoda checking that everyone is sticking to rules? They most definitely use the gents after the finish.

Some have said that the darts and F1 changes mean all that feminism has achieved is to put women out of work. That’s nonsense but it is true that those moves mean we’ll see less women involved in those sports. With any initiative that does away with podium girls in cycling, wouldn’t it be great to see another one that takes aim at getting more women taking an active (non-decorative) role in the races?

So How The Hell are podium girls still a thing? Probably because cycling has never been a sport known for leading the way with bold and progressive steps. By all means, let’s remove them from race ceremonies but please let’s put some positive initiatives in place too.

7 thoughts on “How the hell … are podium girls still a thing?

  1. Sheree says:

    Great article though I’d like to make a couple of points:-
    – Some races, such as the Santos Tour Down Under, have already replaced podium girls with junior riders.
    – Aside from the grand tours, most podium girls are unpaid volunteers.
    – There was a female co-announcer at this year’s Tour of Dubai and also one at last year’s Strade Bianche.

    • Thanks for those points Sheree.

      Interestingly when writing this I noticed that Dubai had the most visible women involved in the race of any of the recent races which I wasn’t expecting.

      • Sheree says:

        Yes, they had four lovely podium ladies parading the jerseys, none of whom were locals! Pretty sure they weren’t volunteers either.

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