By Nigel Wynn
Organisers of the Tour de France are planning on ditching the use of podium hostesses at the three-week Grand Tour.
The use of podium girls is increasingly a controversial issue, with the Vuelta a España – also organised by Tour de France owner ASO – not using them in the 2017 edition of the race.
The Times reported on Thursday that ASO is currently in discussions regarding not using podium girls in the 2018 race, which takes place over July 7-29.
Podium hostesses have traditionally presented riders with prizes and classification jerseys at the end of each of the 21 stages of the Tour.
Several other sports have elected to stop using podium hostesses or walk-on girls, including darts and Formula 1.
Cycling is one of the few sports left that still uses podium girls, and there is increasing pressure to stop their use.
The Tour Down Under in Australia was one of the first top-tier events to stop using podium hostesses. Instead, the race used junior cyclists to present the prizes to riders in a move that was widely welcomed.
In 2013, world champion Peter Sagan pinched the bottom of a podium hostess at the Tour of Flanders. He later issued a video apology over the incident.
And last year, Jan Bakelants issued an apology after making inappropriate comments about podium girls at the Tour de France. Tour director Christian Prudhomme reportedly contacted Bakelant's team, Ag2r La Mondiale, over the incident.
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