As the Tour de France reportedly moves to do away with podium girls for the 2018 race, Giro d’Italia organisers said that they would make no such move, describing the decisions of many other events both in cycling and in other sports as a “temporary trend”.
Speaking at the Abu Dhabi Tour last week, Giro d’Italia race director Mauro Vegni explained that he saw no reason for making any change to the role as part of a wider move towards gender equality and greater rights for women.
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“RCS Sport believe that in this specific moment it is more of a temporary trend to remove podium girls from sport events,” Vegni told Cycling Central.
“As long as those girls are treated with respect and carry on their job in a professional manner, there is no reason for changing the hospitality process.”
Alongside the Tour de France, a number of major cycling races have decided to do away with podium girls, with the Tour Down Under using up-and-coming young cyclists to present prizes on the podium.
Other sports have also made moves in recent months to do away with so-called “ceremonial” roles for women, with Formula One getting rid of grid girls for the 2018 season and the Professional Darts Corporation ending the use of walk-on girls.
However not all sports have embraced the change, with boxing authorities being reluctant to stop the use of ring girls at bouts.
Watch: Giro d’Italia 2018 route guide
“It’s part of cycling, it’s good to have,” said Viviani. “I think Formula One made a mistake to take off the girls. It’s part of the sport, part of the celebration of the sport.
“It’s a nice presence on the start when you have the leader jersey, and on the podium when you go to celebrate your win, or lead on GC.”
“They’ve always been there; it’s quite an historic thing when you go on the podium, you get a kiss off a podium girl,” said Rowe.
“I think the whole sexist thing around the world has gone a bit crazy, everything is growing out of proportion. I don’t think it’s necessarily exploiting them because it’s their choice to do it and it gives someone a job.”
However Katusha-Alpecin’s Alex Dowsett did not see the need for the continued use of podium girls, suggesting an alternative option which could be appreciated even more by the riders.
“I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s not coming from a feminism or sexism point of view, I just don’t actually know what value it adds to an event,” Dowsett said.
“To be honest, I wore the yellow jersey at the under-23 Tour de l’Avenir and Bernard Hinault presented me the jersey and zipped that up. I think having someone like that is a lot more significant because of what they have achieved.”