Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale) has offered his apologies for making inappropriate comments about podium girls at the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday in Düsseldorf.
Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws printed a short six-question interview with Bakelants, who won a stage and wore the yellow jersey in the 2013 Tour.
“My sincerest apologies to all those offended by my words in a so called humouristic itw,” he said on Twitter. “My words have been inappropriate.”
Asked about going three weeks at the Tour without sex, he said: “It’s not too difficult with those porn films, and there are always those podium girls. [Laughs].”
The Belgian added when asked what he would pack for his free time, “Definitely a packet of condoms. You never know where those podium girls are hanging out. [Laughs loudly.]”
The interview caused a stir that went to the top of the Tour de France. Race director Christian Prudhomme reportedly contacted the French WorldTour team, which includes Bakelants’s room-mate Romain Bardet.
“We read the interview,” the team said. “It is clear that Jan wanted to be funny, but the effect was the opposite and in bad taste.
“We offer our apologies to the organisation and to all of those who were offended by his comments.”
Podium girls have drawn attention this year as some race organisers decided to due away with one of cycling’s traditions.
The Tour Down Under, the first WorldTour race on the calendar, cut them to convey a more positive image for women in sport and used junior cyclists instead.
The Volta a Catalunya also skipped the tradition in favour of other prize presenters.