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EM: While these girls exist, women won't be taken seriously in sport.

 

 

by EM RUSCIANO

My other half is a level 6 (there are only 7 levels), hardcore, lycra wearing, leg shaving bike nerd.

In fact as I write these very words I can see him lovingly cleaning his road bike with… WAIT they are our wedding towels! Remind me to lose my shit at him later about why we do not use Sheridan-themed cleaning rags.

The Tour De France, taking place right now, is his Olympics. I basically haven’t seen him since it started. He watches the highlights during the day and sometimes the girls and I sit with him, just so they remember what their father looks like and to pretend we care.

We happened to be watching as one of the stages ended and saw the winning rider being presented with the Yellow jersey. Then the podium girls, also in matching yellow, stood next to him and each gave him a kiss.

He seemed very pleased with himself and although they were all smiling and waving, I have always felt that situation was a little bit creepy. That at the end of the ride, the conquering hero gets his jersey – and 2 beautiful women – as a reward.

And it would appear I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t happy.

My 12 year old said: “Ewww that’s gross, why do they have to kiss him? Why are they even there? Is that the only thing girls do in this race? Kiss the winning rider?”

I responded with: “It’s tradition babe, they have been doing it for a long time. It is seen as an honour to be selected as a podium girl.”

But now I have had time to ponder on it, and it’s occurred to me that my nearly 13-year-old has an excellent point. What the hell are they doing there?!

I did some research on the podium girls, and they are in fact called “tour hostesses”. Their primary role is to “assist the jersey winner to the podium”.  Assist the guys who have just completed a bazillion kilometre hill climb (that may not be the exact distance), and who are considered the toughest athletes in the world, and who train 9 days a week. Yeah,  those dudes definitely need assistance to make the 30cm ascent to the top of the podium.

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So what if it is tradition? That is not a good enough reason to keep it around. Surely we have evolved from a successful man needing to be accessorised with two attractive girls to further enhance his win? Also, I know there is a ladies Tour de France and I enquired as to weather two hot-bodied young men pash the lady stage winners and, look, you are not going to believe this but, they don’t!

I don’t want to shit on anyone’s parade here. I get that it is a European thing to overdo ceremonies and generally be over the top and lavish (I am one of those aforementioned Europeans). However, my daughter was right. The tour hostesses are the only female presence in a bike race watched by millions of families around the world. Families that every now and then, involve young girls.

The only thing the organisers are giving them to aspire to is the opportunity to stand on a podium in a pretty dress. Then to quickly get to the reason they are really there: to awkwardly kiss a sweaty man.

I am not having a crack at the girls who choose to be tour hostesses. I just think it’s time for the organisers to give women other roles in the tour. So that the girls who would like to be a part of the greatest annual sporting event in the world have more of a choice of roles to play. Roles that depend on their mad skills; not their legs and kissing abilities.

To further illustrate my point, I give you an incident that happened after Stage Two last Sunday. Current race leader, Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali, was on the podium after he won. He went in for the kiss, and it felt so nice, he went back for a second one. And BOOM – REJECTED.

I mean, mad props to that hostess for turning him down, that shit wasn’t in the instruction manual! It clearly states ONE kiss, per rider, per win! Just have a look, I have put it in super slow-mo for optimum squeam factor.

Aint nobody got time for that!

What do you think of the role of podium girls?  Unnecessary and outdated? Or just a tradition? 

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