Vuelta organisers "respond to social media debate"

The Vuelta a España will become the first Grand Tour to do away with podium girls, replacing them with “elegantly dressed” men and women for the 2017 race.

The race follows in the footsteps of the Tour Down Under and the Volta Catalunya, both of which have ended the tradition of having women presenting prizes to winning riders on the podium for this year.

“We are sensitive to the social media debate that has been generated in recent months about the presence of hostesses on podiums,” Javier Guillén, CEO of race organisers Unipublic, told El Mundo.

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“In Australia the presence of the girls has already been stopped, as they have at other races in Spain. We cannot turn our backs on these concerns.”

Guillén said that podium prizes will presented to riders by “elegantly dressed” men and women, with the tradition of the riders receiving kisses from the women on the podium also being stopped.

Unipublic is fully owned by ASO, which organises the Tour de France as many other of the biggest races on the cycling calendar, and has continued to use podium girls at this year’s Tour.

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Asked about the possibility of the Tour de France making a similar move, Guillén responded: “there is no such debate about sexism in France”.

The 2017 Vuelta a España starts on August 19 in Nîmes, France, and finishes on September 10 in Madrid.