Organisers of the E3 BinckBank Classic, formerly known as E3 Harelbeke, have replaced their controversial frog poster with a new design which features a sick amphibians instead of the previous creation formed by two women wearing only body paint.
The new poster sports the same tagline: “Who will crown himself prince in Harelbeke?” but depicts a frog on its back looking far from fit enough to leap to the finish line first.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) ordered the organisers to remove the initial poster, threatening them with legal action in the event of non-compliance.
In a statement, the UCI said it ‘strongly disapproved’ of the choice made by the organisers, commenting: “The UCI has been fighting for several years to promote equity between men and women in cycling through different initiatives such as a charter to promote men/women equality within the UCI’s administration, an equality charter for podium ceremonies, and also different documents demanding the respect of ethical principles for everyone working within UCI Road Teams.
“In view of the above, the UCI has ordered the organiser of the E3 BinckBank Classic to withdraw the visual promotion from all its communication channels in which it appears. In the case of non-compliance, the UCI will envisage initiating proceedings with its legal bodies.”
Releasing the new poster, the organisers said: “[Due to] ‘unforeseen circumstances’ our frog fell from his throne… But keep our frog in view on Friday March 29th!”
It’s far from the first time the race has been criticised for its promotional material.
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’.