Sign of the Times: Tour de France Will Retire Podium Girls
The organizing committee of the Tour de France, the world’s premier international cycling competition, has decided to stop featuring attractive young women who greet and kiss racers at the podium at the end of every stage. In France, they are known as “hôtesses du Tour,” and they have been a fixture of this sporting event for decades, but times are changing and complaints from the public have been rolling in at an increased pace in recent years.
At a time when the #MeToo movement is gaining traction around the world, many fans of the Tour de France think that it is time for the podium girls to be retired as an antiquated practice. Until 2017, strikingly beautiful French women could be seen dressed and fashionable, skin-tight short dresses ready to greet the top rider in every stage of the tour. After handing the competitor the iconic yellow jersey, two podium girls would flank the winner and plant a kiss on his cheek while posing for press photographers. Images of the podium girls would be distributed around the world by the major wire services, and thus they became known as a Tour de France tradition.
When the tour gets started in July 2018, some people will miss the podium girls, but many others will be glad that race organizers have listened to their complaints about what they consider to be a chauvinistic practice. The first time podium girls greeted riders was in 1930; during the 1980s, some people complained that they showed too much skin, and thus wardrobe stylists were tasked with choosing less revealing attire.
Other international competitions hosted in France have also stopped featuring female models during their events. The Formula One 24 Hours of Le Mans made a decision to retire the numerous “pit girls” who were extensively photographed next to race cars, and organizers of darts and billiards tournaments have done likewise.
According to TheLocal.fr, a website dedicated to French news topics, podium girls have a history that extends beyond the podium; for example, even though organizers have a strict policy of not allowing relationships with the racers, at least two of them left the tour so that they could date and eventually marry professional riders. Some podium girls have complained about improper conduct by riders who could not keep their hands to themselves.
Some women who had submitted their applications to the tour this years have expressed their disappointment with the situation since they hoped to earn more than $2,200 for three weeks of work.
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