‘Podium Girls’ have long been a staple part of the presentation at the end of a men’s (and sometimes women’s race) – but times seem to be changing.
Events such as the Aviva Women’s Tour have already shown their stance on the tradition, having children from local schools present riders with flowers. Now the Tour Down Under has gone down a similar route.
In 2017, there will be no women in short skirts on the podium – instead junior cyclists will present the prizes.
The move came after the South Australian Government withdrew its support of podium models at the race, in the interests of changing the messages pumped out to young women.
The Government also made the decision to withdraw funding for ‘grid girls’ at Adelaide’s Clipsal 500 motorcar race, which has long been a feature of the sporting landscape in Adelaide.
SA Sport Minister Leon Bignell is said to be the “driving force” behind the move. He told ABC.net: “The Government’s paying for [podium girls] at the same time we’re putting money into mental health areas to help young women who have body image problems.
“What we actually want to do is inspire girls and young women who come to the motor racing to be car drivers or to be mechanics or to be engineers.”
Other races of course will continue with the tradition – for now, but it’s clear female riders and fans aren’t happy. Last year, Marijn de Vries drew attention to the rather cold looking models at the Flanders Diamond Tour in Belgium, drawing well over 500 re-tweets.
We hope this is the first change of many as cycling makes its slow, but steady, crawl towards equality.
Also worth a read… 5 Issues in Professional Women’s Cycling More Important Than THAT Kit