E3 Harelbeke advert causes controversy

Advert for the Belgium one-day classic labelled as sexist by critics after it was posted online

The organiser of the E3 Harelbeke classic has courted controversy with its advertisement for the 2015 race, which attempts to poke fun at Peter Sagan’s podium antics from the 2013 editon of that race and at the Tour of Flanders in the same year.

Having finished runner-up to Fabian Cancellara in both instances, the Slovakian, then riding for Cannondale, mimed patting the podium girl on the backside as she congratulated the E3 winner, before pinching podium girl Maja Leye while on stage in Flanders.

Tour of Flanders

OUDENAARDE, BELGIUM - MARCH 31: Race winner Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland and RadioShack Leopard standards on top of the podium as Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Cannondale looks on during the 97th Tour of Flanders from Brugge to Oudenaarde on March 31, 2013 in Oudenaarde, Belgium. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now, the organiser has decided to use the controversial moments as an advertising strategy, but was met by a barage of criticism when the image was posted on social media on Monday morning, being described as 'misogynistic' and 'demeaning'.

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The caption on the poster, ‘Wie knijpt ze in Harelbeke’ literally translates to ‘Who squeezes them in Harelbeke?’

Last season Sagan took the top spot in Harelbeke and Niki Terpstra was snapped staring at the podium girl’s bottom as they leant in for the kiss.


28 March 2014
57th E3 Harelbeke
1st : SAGAN Peter (SVK) Cannondale
2nd : TERPSTRA Niki (NED) Omega Pharma - Quickstep
3rd : THOMAS Geraint (GBR) Sky
Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

The Belgian classic has a history of risqué advertisements, starting in 2011 with Flemish Playboy model Gaëlle Garcia Diaz lying naked girl lying in the grass with cyclists drawn riding up her back.

The advert was deemed 'too sexy' and the model was replaced by pictures of Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and Juan Antonio Flecha. In reaction to the controversy, organisers recruited Germaine to be the model and podium girl for the 2012 campaign.


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