'Podium girls are being treated as objects'

Team Sky's Mikel Landa welcomes the decision of the Tour Down Under not to have podium girls

Mikel Landa on the podium after winning Stage 2 of the 2016 Giro del Trentino

(Image credit: Watson)

Team Sky's Mikel Landa says that the Tour Down Under decision to do away with podium girls is an example for other organisers to follow.

The UCI WorldTour opener this year will no longer have hostesses presenting the day's winner his flowers after the South Australian government, which partially funds the race, decided to cut the custom.

"That is the line that we should go to," Landa told Spain's El Correo newspaper. "Podium girls presenting the prizes is an old tradition, it's like treating the women them as objects, and undervaluing them."

>>> Organiser apologies for bikini-clas podium girls at Belgian women's race

The Government of South Australia decided in December to withdraw its support for female models presenting prizes at the stage race. To convey a more positive image for women in sport, it is using junior cyclists instead.

The tradition of one or two women on the stage next to the stage winner or overall leader remains entrenched in a custom-laden sport.

"This is a deeply rooted custom and nobody dares question it," added Landa.

"And you have to admit that the women who go up on the podium are there because they are beautiful and have nice figures, and that's not the image you'd want to project."

Watch: Tour Down Under stage two highlights

The Spaniard is not part of the Sky roster in Adelaide, Australia, instead beginning his march towards the Giro d'Italia at the Volta a Valenciana, in Spain, on February 1.

The Giro and the other Grand Tours, the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, will keep the custom, remaining stepping stones for women hoping to achieve bigger modelling jobs or acting roles.

"I think there has been controversy about it in Europe," Javier Guillen, director of the Vuelta a España, told Marca.

"There have been no complaints, either. Our podium hostesses work in an environment of dignity and respect, we put women together with athletes and in the women's race, we have men."

Current world champion Peter Sagan caused a stir in 2013 Tour of Flanders when he pinched a podium girl's backside. He sent out a video apology later.

Cycling takes a much more modest approach with women hostesses compared to the paddock and grid girls of Moto GP and Formula One.

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