E3 BinckBank poster draws criticism after using body painted women to depict frog

Its not entirely clear if the frog makes any sort of cultural reference or has a link to the race

Organisers of the E3 BinckBank Classic - formerly called the E3 Harelbeke -  has released the poster for its 2019 event, featuring two women wearing only body paint, lying on top of each other to form a frog. The picture is accompanied by the strap line 'Who shall crown himself prince in Harelbeke?'

The new banner was accompanied by a video, which shows how the frog was formed from the merging of the women's bodies.

Created by C-Design, it has been reported that the creation took eight hours of work and will be hung in 148 places - almost three times as many as the 2018 design, which featured in 50 locations.


The poster has not been well received so far, with Twitter users responding angrily.

'City Girl Rides' called it "terrible and out of touch campaigning" whilst Peter Sokol (@Mohawksk) said "[This is an] exceptionally inappropriate race campaign", and asked the UCI to act.

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The organisers of the early season race in Flanders, Belgium, have come up against controversy in the past for their race posters.

In 2015, the marketing material showed a rider about to grab a woman's exposed bottom. This poster was removed, and the UCI released a statement, saying: “The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) was extremely unhappy with the promotional poster of the 2015 E3 Harelbeke.”

“We have reminded the organiser of its responsibility and the UCI Regulations and they have agreed to take off the poster from all communication platforms.”

In 2016, the poster featured a priest, with the tag line 'cycling is holy, winning is sacred', whilst 2017 shocked us all with a baby covered in tattoos, one reading 'mommy's rebel'.

>>> E3 Harelbeke organisers use female ‘cowgirl’ dancers to launch 2018 race

Last year's poster featured a cowboy - with the tag line 'who will be the sheriff of the Texas of Flanders?'-  and was supported by female dancers in 'cowgirl' outfits.

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.

Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 

Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.

Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.