Thursday Shorts

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Many are wondering whether Froome will take to the start of the Giro d’Italia. Will there be umbrella girls on the startline too? The race employs women on the start line to hold umbrellas over the leaders of each jersey competition. Formula 1 has just announced it will stop using “grid girls”.

We’ll see, you and I may wonder at the purpose of ombrelline but the Giro’s prime audience is rural Italy so maybe RCS won’t rush, especially as a glance at the content of host broadcaster RAI says the Giro is nothing exceptional. Still beyond the Giro “podium girls” could go too, especially the ones employed to wear skimpy outfits and kiss the riders and do little else beyond. There will still be a need for people on the podium for the ceremony of handing over jerseys and prizes and many races already manage, the Tour Down Under uses local junior riders who greet the riders who are more usually hanging as posters on their bedroom wall and some races use local costumes for that rural touch.

As for the startlist, the Corriere newspaper reported Froome could settle for a short ban. Normally the writer is well-informed but in a few hours Chris Froome tweeted a denial, although the interval was long enough for several news sites to relay the story. All for nothing? Not quite because if he was quick to slap down this story L’Equipe’s previous story about Froome exploring a “kidney malfunction” wasn’t denounced and it seems this remains part of his defence.

Newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport weighs in with their columnist Pier Bergonzi calling on the UCI President David Lappartient to “intervene heavily” but for good or bad it’s not the President’s remit to intervene in doping cases any more. The case rumbles on with the likes of Giro boss Mauro Vegni increasingly worried a verdict could fall just ahead of, or even during, his race. During would be terrible, to see a rider extracted from the race like a toy bear by a claw crane is bad enough, to have a GC contender linked to a substantial appearance fee is worse. Even if it happens before it’s problematic as the race and media don’t know whether to hype up Froome’s participation. Is he an asset or a liability to the Giro now?

Sans Froome: ironically without Froome the Giro’s startlist is better than ever and in his absence the race could be very close. Only this week Thibaut Pinot has confirmed he will ride again and it now means the startlist includes Tom Dumoulin, Fabio Aru, Miguel Angel Lopez, Rohan Dennis, Louis Meintjes, Michael Woods, Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves among others.

Costa Pobre: 12 riders have been provisionally suspended following tests for banned blood boosters CERA and EPO in the Tour of Costa Rica. It’s astonishing, it’s tragic and it shows the different systems in place with these lesser races having fewer controls and almost no Whereabouts testing and bio passports. The World Tour isn’t perfect, nobody said it is – see Samuel Sanchez and André Cardoso both still provisionally suspended – but it does bring more regulation in terms of the regularity and depth of testing.

Have you seen the poster for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne? You have now and this is the whole point. The race takes place on the Sunday after the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and suffers for this, it’s not such an attractive race and is sometimes a revenge event for those who missed out in the Omloop. So it needs all the publicity it can get to ensure people tune in. Art buffs will know the poster as derivative of Napoleon’s crossing of the Alps, depicting the French emperor riding over the Grand Saint Bernard pass.

Trek-Segafredo are already on five wins this season. They had 20 last year in total so a quarter of this by January is good going. One of those last year was John Degenkolb who landed in a win the Dubai Tour and then nothing else but he’s on two already this year after winning two rounds of the Trofeo Mallorca (pictured: via the team press release). If you’re a German speaker then cyclingmagazine.de has a lesenswirt interview with the Frankfurter.

Trek-Segafredo are a team that’s increased in size and the chart above is a follow-up to last year’s post to shows the change in team sizes between 2017 and 2018. For all the talk of a shrinking peloton last autumn team sizes are down by an average of 0.9 riders and to stress again the move to shrink team sizes by one rider is a factor but so is the budgetary position of some teams, notably BMC Racing for whom there’s no news if they’ll continue in 2019.

1989 Thanks: finally many thanks to readers who have emailed in resources about the 1989 Tour de France. Hopefully I’ve replied with personal thanks but on top here is a general thanks for the helpful responses and to say I’ve got a massive amount of media from the time and happy to share too. It was a fascinating edition of the race, obviously for the eight seconds difference between the winner Greg LeMond and second place Laurent Fignon and this after they swapped the race lead several times in the mountains. The more you look there’s so much more going on in the race and the sport as a whole during the 1989 season too, hopefully more this soon.

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HodH February 1, 2018 at 1:41 pm

I really hope this is the beginning of the end for podium girls at all events.

Perhaps because the Giro is sold for broadcast to many other countries, and it’s at the least a window onto Italy, and even an advert for tourism and business there, it will decide to modernise its image. Unless of course ‘we have pretty girls’ is the image Italy wants to project to the world.

Michele February 1, 2018 at 9:30 pm

A young junior rider was a “junior podium assistant” at the Tour Down Under when they did away with podium girls. This year she actually rode the TDU & talked about how inspiring it had been to be on the podium with the pros she’d looked up to for years.

Duty JR February 2, 2018 at 7:27 pm

I really never understood the podium girls both in cycling or F1; I’m a heterosexual man but I’ve never had the thought “you know what this race needs? more hot chicks wearing skimpy outfits”. Personally I think the junior’s idea makes more tactful sense ethically and business wise for proof see the Race Reporter Ruby videos from specialized.

Mario C February 5, 2018 at 10:30 am

Gaaaaay!

J Evans February 5, 2018 at 11:28 am

I’m so glad we’ve added some homophobia into the mix.
(No doubt this comment is also ‘political correctness’ to many – even though the term ‘PC’ was invented by bigots to try to justify their bigoted opinions: not all who use the term are bigots, they’ve just been duped by the bigots.)

John Ball February 1, 2018 at 1:41 pm

The giro/RAI (ab)use of women is so blatant that in the last few KMs of the race they switch from race coverage to an image of female models wearing tight replica jersey’s walking along the finishing straight.
What is the point? Don’t answer that with a line about sponsor promotion.
Also, if there is a breakdown in the coverage, we get shots of women in the crowd, again what’s the point?
Maybe its RAI that is not so special.

IF, I repeat, if Froome doped, then he is just another junkie stealing results, and honestly who wants to see yet another excused doper winning? Cue the “but he is a grand champion…” crowd 😉

The Inner Ring February 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

I’d rather not kick off the trial of Froome via the blog comments but your point does raise the question of how the race treats him and in the absence of a verdict he’s gone from being the “Tour-Vuelta double rider now trying to the Giro” to the rider under suspicion who could be suspended any day.

Mike D February 3, 2018 at 5:50 am

Out of interest…….if the decision on Froome’s case has not been delivered by the start of the Giro, does the race organiser have the ability to exclude him from the start list?

The Inner Ring February 3, 2018 at 11:39 am

There is a rule allowing for riders to be excluded for the sake of the image of the sport but this is going to be hard to apply to Froome, the Tour de France has tried to use it before but lost at the CAS. Basically if someone is eligible to ride/work then excluding because you’re worried about the image is a difficult one to enforce in a court or sports arbitration panel.

Michael B February 1, 2018 at 2:04 pm

“The giro/RAI (ab)use of women is so blatant that in the last few KMs of the race they switch from race coverage to an image of female models wearing tight replica jersey’s walking along the finishing straight. What is the point? Don’t answer that with a line about sponsor promotion.”

Totally agree – I hope they put a stop to that this year. Ridiculous.

Sam G February 1, 2018 at 1:48 pm

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne poster is a shoe in for making top 10 highlights of the year already.

Napoleon, “The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue.” As true for a soldier as it is a cyclist.

The Inner Ring February 1, 2018 at 1:50 pm

As is the line we can shorten to “I don’t care if he is a good general, is he a lucky general?”

Ecky Thump February 1, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Ultimately he wasn’t, and a pan-European alliance brought him down.
A portent of things to come for Emperor Sagan?

bmj February 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

I would imagine any “plea bargain” sort of deal for Froome would include vacating his Vuelta win. The UCI would need something like that if they would only suspend him for 6-9 months, most of which would have been backdated over the winter. And I can’t imagine Froome taking such a deal, as his career would be then be tainted with the same asterisks as Contador.

The Inner Ring February 1, 2018 at 1:53 pm

The plea bargain to backdate is difficult, it’s only if he held up his hands and said “it’s all my fault” and not even bother with the UCI Tribunal could this go back to the start date under what’s called the “Acceptance of Consequences” measures (he’d lose the Vuelta).

ChrisSK February 3, 2018 at 7:30 pm

How on earth can Froome or his legal team start to “negotiate” a lenient ban? He was caught.

Will they walk into the hearing with the story “guys, he’s tried to recreate the conditions and failed, so we want to change our story… yes, he took an oral dose… we’re sorry we didn’t tell you earlier, p.s. can the ban start from XY date even despite that we claimed innocence and continued riding after the first notices were given to rider?… pretty puh-lease?”

Ecky Thump February 1, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Performing podium girls or performing chimps?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbvq-kZMWIA

gabriele February 1, 2018 at 3:26 pm

I suppose that “better than ever” is an overstatement to stress what’s in fact the confirmation of an ongoing trend – quite a shift actually, at least if we limit our perspective to the last couple of decades.

However, things as they are, I still prefer – albeit slightly so – last year’s startlist from a personal POV: more riders about whom we already knew they’d be able to be high-level contenders in a GT. I acknowledge that this year it might be more about perspective: young yet already tested promises some of whom may indeed step up to become the top GC contenders for the next five or six years. So, it’s probably a matter of personal taste (note that it’s not like 2017 hadn’t any very good perspective rider, too, just as 2018 will be also fought by riders who already showed that they can be up there for a podium or a win – I’m speaking of balance and shades).
As I said elsewhere, the 2017 Giro startlist might even be considered better than that Tour’s, although it’s again a subject for very personal opinions.

But the Giro’s already been having very good, if not as excellent, startlists for at least *five years* now, stepping seriously up from what had already been an improvement in the previous five ones, after the seven year of lean cows during the darkest of the Armstrong era and immediatley after.

Somers February 1, 2018 at 3:39 pm

I’m trying to understand something – say Froome starts racing before the decision and then is found guilty, does this mean his ban starts from the date of the decision AND he loses all previous results up until and including the Vuelta or is it just that his ban starts from the time of the decision but he doesn’t lose all previous results except the Vuelta?

On another thing, if Froome doesn’t race in the next Month and a half we can safely assume that their keeping a “provisional suspension” option up their sleeves.

Somers February 1, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Sorry – to be clear, by losing “all previous results” I meant all results between the Vuelta 2017 and X, where X is the date of the decision on his case.

The Inner Ring February 1, 2018 at 3:41 pm

A lot of ifs and buts but the normal version would be a ban starting from the decision date and the loss of results in the Vuelta but not the Worlds silver medal because this is a “specified substance”. Also provisional suspension is a formal status, you can’t claim you didn’t race and this was a self-imposed suspension, you have to declare the suspension in advance here.

Somers February 1, 2018 at 9:24 pm

Thanks 🙂

PaulG February 2, 2018 at 11:55 am

With a self imposed suspension….does this have to be made public OR could the UCI have been notified of such, but it remains private as per the doping process?

ChrisSK February 3, 2018 at 7:34 pm

Chasing Strava KOM’s in South Africa should count to being active – it’s hardly a self-imposed suspension on the sidelines, while he smashes records half way around the world.

Paul February 1, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Only Sagan could get away with that poster, fits in perfectly with his sense of humour! Top

CA February 1, 2018 at 6:47 pm

Thanks for the news shorts Mr. Ring, interesting as always.

Look – can anyone answer this: Why isn’t WADA able to expedite this case? This has to be resolved by the end of February, or else we are going to hear at every single GC tune-up race “Chris Froome, who is currently….” Oh just kill me please. I don’t care either way, suspend him or let him ride, just pick one. We know what he’s on trial for, many of us strongly suspect what he’s been getting away with, let’s just move on.

Nick February 2, 2018 at 12:11 pm

It’s not with WADA yet; it’s with the UCI. (And WADA’s probably going to be pre-occupied by the Winter Olympics in the near term, anyway.)

According to La Gazetta, the process until now has been the UCI and Froome’s respective experts exchanging reports – quite possibly linked to the vast amount of activity Froome’s been recording on Strava. The matter has now apparently been referred to the UCI’s anti-doping tribunal, so the process appears to be in hand.

Ecky Thump February 2, 2018 at 1:15 pm

I wonder if the CAS’ ruling on the Russian weightlifters has potential ramifications for the Froome case?
The science seems very inexact, and in light of the above and the precedence it may set where lack of evidence is found, would a ban be contestable?

gabriele February 2, 2018 at 2:27 pm

I don’t think so. They aren’t comparable episodes.
Allegedly, there wasn’t any direct evidence about many of those Russian athletes.
In Froome’s case he’s simply being conceded a margin by the (generous) rules to prove that it *might* have been a physiological albeit exceptional event, but the science is actually quite damning.
He’s taking advantage of the whole asthma situation in the peloton, leading to *huge* tolerance towards a specific substance – whose limits he’s stepped *out*.
But there’s no doubt that there’s evidence that something about *him* has gone wrong. Hence, in sporting terms, he’s already in the condition of being guilty unless he proves otherwise.
In several Russian athletes’ case, at least as far as I could understand, the question is if they should have ever been considered guilty in the first place, given the lack of specific personal evidence.

The common point is that both current circumstances are probably politically driven, which doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing did happen or that any of those athletes – including Froome – ever were clean. With a bit of inductive gamble, we might even go as far as to imagine that in both situations things had gone a bit too far in the eyes of the rest of the movement because of a previous excess of political protection.
But even if the above was true – and that’s a big “if” – the cases materialised in different ways, hence setting Froome and the Russians in very different positions.

gabriele February 2, 2018 at 2:32 pm

Ops, sorry Ecky, I’m a terrible reader, recently. I thought you were speaking of the Winter Olympic case recently ruled by CAS and wrote my reply accordingly, while I don’t know much about the weightlifters affair.

Ecky Thump February 2, 2018 at 11:26 pm

It’s I who should apologise, it was the Winter Olympians case not the weight lifters.
And thanks for your explanation too.

AP February 1, 2018 at 8:04 pm

CF should ride! The streets of Italy will flood with tossed urine, boos will exceed 85dB, cycling forum servers will melt what’s left of the icecap, the public will learn there’s a race called the Geeroh… it’s all win win win.

STS February 2, 2018 at 12:54 am

:-)))

GazelleCM February 2, 2018 at 9:42 pm

The French hotheads on the Equipe website are also promising all kinds of mayhem, if CF is going to ride in France. CF was not very loved in France before all this, it is much worse now. It will be difficult to protect him. It’s a mess.

Lee Woodhead February 5, 2018 at 11:43 am

It really is a mess & is in danger of ruining the whole GT season. I know there are technical reasons for him not receiving a ban but it really does seem a perverse situation where the rider seems to decide whether he is guilty or not. Also, it appears daft to have these limits on certain substances if they are not enforceable. Whatever happens his whole career is tainted.

vivre sa vie February 2, 2018 at 2:51 am

For those who didn’t see this —> http://inrng.com/2013/07/tour-de-france-podium-hostess-interview/

Are they forced to do the job ? What’s that ?… they apply and want the job ?
Who are any of you to say what someone else should be doing or not doing ?
You don’t like it ? Do you stop watching ?

Inrng… any riders who married a podium girl ? Any idea on the amount of the wages ?

MattF February 2, 2018 at 6:20 am

Stuart O’Grady, George Hincapie etc. Rampant political correctness?

gabriele February 2, 2018 at 11:43 am

I must admit with a certain feeling of guilt that I always sort of liked the anachronistic flavour of the podium kiss. One of those awkward, out of time, out of place things which, as such, sound a bit like cycling itself.
Obviously, that works only until one starts to think a little about it.
Your arguments are among the most feeble I’ve ever heard and they could easily apply to several forms of exploitation which are put in place in order to carry on activities which are actually detrimental for the society as a whole.
And which our societies, in the luckiest cases, decided not to accept anymore.
That *collective decision* or developing cultural shift is what the desperate reactionary calls “political correctness”.
After all, when you study cultural history you end up discovering that any big change we now can give for granted went together with the bunch of old respectable fogeys crying out against the new vogue or the general hypocrisy of those who couldn’t acquiesce to “reality” (*reality*, that is, the way the privileged sees and justifies his world).

It’s not just about what happens to the girls, who in many cases perhaps aren’t totally aware of the implications, or started a career and invested time and resources there so that now the shift becomes complicated, or just need the money.
Maybe you could have a look here, to start with:
http://www.elperiodico.com/es/sociedad/20180201/la-azafata-que-se-helo-en-el-godo-si-hablas-no-vuelves-a-trabajar-6593768

Yes, and besides all that, the key point is that perhaps our society now includes the voices of those who are tired to see a gender – more often than not *their* gender – represented on the public scene *mainly* as an adornment, an object which doesn’t perform any significant action apart being watched with delusional lust, a support for the brand but not even by chance because the brand wants to be related to your skills and success, only because you’re a TV-time display and an eye-catcher. Even way closer to the roadside ads than to the doomed breakaway artist, but in a less innocent way.
It’s subtle, but please not that I don’t criticise the existence of sexualised desire or appreciation for gendered beauty. It’s the whole context of *this* situation. A still heavily gendered sport, matched with a representation of the *other* gender (all very binary, on top of that) as excluded from the action, reduced to a reward for the conqueror. As if women’s cycling, and cycling women – and, well, women in general – hadn’t already enough s**t to deal with.

When we’ll be able to consciously play (using irony, exaggeration, overturning) with such a narrative, a very kinky one indeed, – as it started to happen somewhere – perhaps we might have it back: but it should be forbidden as long as somebody who can perceive it as normal is still around.
For now, that sort of representation and its ongoing reproduction contributes to strengthen some of the worst cognitive and behavioural patterns of our societies, hence should just be banned or blamed.

gabriele February 2, 2018 at 11:51 am

“It’s subtle, but please *note that I don’t…”

J Evans February 2, 2018 at 11:53 am

Brilliantly put.

Nick February 2, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Agree with this. It’s not just about the few dozen women who choose to work as podium girls, but also the several million more who see their gender represented simply as decoration/prizes for the men who are getting on with the real action.

chava February 2, 2018 at 1:56 pm

Sorry, this sounds like complete nonsense to me and straight out of some deluded Gender Studies intro course. But obviously cycling as well as motorsports will need to adjust to the new puritanism spreading like wildfire in the AngloSaxon world. Also fits quite well with the expansion into countries with, let’s say, ‘problematic’ view on women independence.

gabriele February 2, 2018 at 2:48 pm

Yeah, you know “Gender Studies” :-O
…that is something which is being globally worked on and accepted by “Academy”, “Universities”, that is, the sort of people who produce what our society collectively acknowledges to be the most similar thing to truth we can provisionally take hold of.

Like, I don’t know, “Quantic Physics” or “Immunotherapy” or whatever, you can have a decent degree of debate ongoing but some part of it definitely enters the foundations of our common world. In the case of humanities, we may even go as far as to say that relevant parts of it should become *shared commonsense*.

I guess you’ll now rush to set some evolutionist straight in any available “Comment Section on the Internet” because his or her nonsense “looks like the Origin of Species abridged”.
Just have a look at the video Ecky posted above and you might grasp where the link is: everything is connected, the New Puritanism, the Global Science Conspiracy, *they* are coming for all of us “authentic-non-puritan-white-middleaged-males-with-or-without-lycra”… Let’s get our rifles and our keyboards and defend Alamo.

J Evans February 2, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Yes, if there’s on thing that is obvious about the ‘AngloSaxon world’ as you put it, it’s that equality of the sexes has been achieved completely.
Now we’re faced with the ‘puritanism’ of these bloody women incessantly complaining about being sexually assaulted.

Your absurd notion that gender equality and women not being paraded like animals ‘fits quite well with the expansion into countries with, let’s say, ‘problematic’ view on women independence’ shows how little comprehension about misogyny you have: both of these types of behaviour view women as existing purely in terms of how they are viewed by men.
You might want to try looking at this subject from a viewpoint that isn’t entirely constructed from your own situation and experiences.

Nick February 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm

Sounds like you need to sit the course again.

Ferdi February 2, 2018 at 10:11 pm

I think Gabriele’s first three lines touch upon something hugely more important than the rest and its “theory of cultural change”. I think there’s something wrong in his reasoning, which is to seem to “include the voices” of those who very seldom following cycling or attend podium ceremonies. I mean, I personally find abhorrent, and ethically perverted, that national anthems are played before NHL games. But since I don’t follow hockey I don’t expect my opinion to matter or bring about a “cultural change”. I’m not that arrogant.

gabriele February 3, 2018 at 12:07 pm

I watch cycling quite much. And so do several other commenters here.
Since you like historical cycling, you should ask yourself why so many historical cycling sponsors were products which would be bought or chosen by women. And they often were among the most famous ones.
It’s not that women aren’t a part of cycling public (a percentage which shifted through time and not always in the direction we might expect, with a variety of approaches to the sport).
It’s more like they were and are invisible to the self-representation of the sport itself by his male component. Which is how exclusion and marginalisation mainly work. It’s not about kickin’ you out, it’s about don’t caring if you are in: you don’t matter anyway.

However, your reasoning doesn’t work great, either: if something wrong is happening in my social context, I may decide to act whether I’m interested in that specific sector or not. If a big company is exploiting its workers and abusing them, I could participate in the mobilisation against that although I don’t buy or I’m not even interested in that company’s products. If I am a client, I’ll just be more motivated. Since our lifespan and energy is limited, we tend to fight in a limited number of causes, which are normally those we’re directly involved in because we better understand them and the emotional push is greater, but if you do your homework you can be part of whatever struggle, even the NHL anthem one (in our specific case, anyway, women are involved because they are women and the way their gender is represented affects them all in a way which is hard to understand when you belong to the “not-marked gender”).

Ferdi February 3, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Firstly, let me say that I’m not pro-podium girls per se, I’m only against cultural changes forced by complaint, which I find authoritarian. Secondly, let me say that I’m old enough to remember Spanish actress Rafaela Aparicio playing the old woman buying Reynolds aluminium foil at her groucer’s (because it was women who wrapped sandwiches in it for their grandchildren, right?), saying “deme Reynolds, el de los ciclistas”, and then you would get a shot of Gorospe (I believe, maybe it was Arroyo or Laguía, but ask Unzué, he must remember better, I haven’t found the ad online). All this to say that, yes, I very well remember when women, mostly mid-aged to seniors, paid attention to cycling. Still they do, but much less than then. But those women couldn’t care less for the so-called “objectification” of women as “decorative assistants”. The women complaining about it nowadays don’t follow cycling, the only thing they are concerned with is the stupid podium girls issue. And because their weight on the attention the sports gets is nil (or negative) their influence can’t be reckoned with. You said it should. I say it can’t. The only opinion to matter on how cycling is “staged” or “ritualised” is that of those who stand in front watching. If most of them can live with it, and sponsors consider it’s a cost-effective way to display their sponsorship, then there’s nothing more to say. Any “theory of forced cultural change” is hors-sujet, and quite possibly contemptuous.
I would honestly beg those who disagree to organise parallel races, compete with the existing ones as they’ve traditionally existed, and see who gets more followers and sponsors, instead of trying to force existing races to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do.

Allegedly Anthony February 3, 2018 at 10:35 am

Well put. I was never overly supportive of the idea of podium girls, but I was never properly “anti” until I saw a podium presentation at a women’s race with podium boys and I really how uncomfortable it made me feel.
There will always be opposition to any changes, as there are always vested interests in the status quo, folks who hate change or just people who don’t care about the wrong that you are trying to right. This isn’t on the same level as universal suffrage or equal pay for equal work, but it’s still worth pushing for this small symptom of progress.

Allegedly Anthony February 3, 2018 at 10:37 am

Sorry “realised”, not “really” – autocorrect…

Dan February 2, 2018 at 3:11 pm

Those black people weren’t slaves… They were being housed and fed, they weren’t running away, they even played music on their harmonicas and sang songs.
And, everyone knows that the best seats are at the back of the bus anyway.

You don’t like it? Do you stop wearing cotton?

Sigh…

CA February 2, 2018 at 8:42 pm

Not going to lie, why is everyone against the podium girl’s job? I mean society has an economic place for models, there are a certain group of people that are very attractive and they have a place. The podium girls do a job, collect a pay cheque and that’s that. Now if people treat them with respect, then fine. But in reality it’s the same thing as having Bernard Hinault up on the podium handing out the prize and collecting a fee. It’s just that one is good looking and another isn’t.

It seems like way over political correctness, and it is turning into prejudice against good looking people.

Ferdi February 2, 2018 at 10:14 pm

Well, this way they will save on podium girls’ cheques. Low-cost world.

gabriele February 3, 2018 at 11:08 am

Poorly informed and poorly defended. Hinault is there because of what he achieved, while being there because “you are good looking” means that “your job” is being watched as an adornment within a very specific narrative which is very different from models’.
I know it might be time-and-effort-consuming, but if you go through what I wrote above you might get the difference (hints: are male models a mere and extremely rare exception? Are female models a sideshow in relation to the real action? Are fashion models there for a public which is conceptualised by the production as one-sidedly gendered and sexualised? Etc.)
You might even get your Google Translator and try to read the article I posted above.

Anonymous February 3, 2018 at 11:58 pm

@ Ferdi
„The women complaining about it nowadays don’t follow cycling, the only thing they are concerned with is the stupid podium girls issue.“

Where do you take this knowledge from? Because you „feel“ it this way or your neighbour doesn‘t? I complain about podium girls (at least as long as we don‘t see podium boys share in, in tight mini shorts parading in front of the female F1 drivers (oh…wait..) with a frozen smile, because it isn’t much fun, that people seem to think you are a walking butt, because your behind is all they look at and care about and muscles shaking, because it is so damn painful to suck in your stomach all the time) and I am a woman and I am watching cycling.

Yesterday I saw a man writing it would be a „tragedy“, that the F1 girls would lose their good paid jobs and that they are victims of the women, who are tired of being objectified. What is a tragedy, is, that we live in a world, where the well paid jobs for women are being done half naked and looking nice instead of driving a F1 car or a motobike in the Moto GP. And if a few women lose their job, to make the world better for all women, then may be it this way. Did mine workers stop their fight for more rights and safety, just because some lost their jobs? No, they fought on, because sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

Have any of you men commenting here even the slightest idea how many women get raped, harrased, murdered every year on this planet? How in india, pakistan, latin america women are lucky, if they come through life unhurt? How the life here in the west consists for women of nights going home with their key in hand in case someone attacks you, how you sit with your friend on a bank and a man comes and masturbates in front of you (and these are really the harmless things -yet men don‘t have to live in this constant fear, men don‘t get their rights, their personal space and security attacked like we women and it is simply not right, that we should endure this). How in russia alone (I quote russia, because I know the numbers for them, not because they are worse than others), 30.000 women get killed every year by men. 30.000 lives lost. Not by accidents or illness – no, just because men don’t control themselves, because of patriarchy, sexism and the picture men have of women. And disgusting things like Podium girls contribute to this. I don‘t get, why men, who don‘t condone the rape, harrasment and murder of women, are not vocally, furiously on our side? How can they identify with men who do these things, instead with decent people, who want to change that, even when these decent people are female?

Sorry, the comments here made me a little bit angry. Many men don‘t even want to give up a little bit of their place, privilege and power, so that women can live safely, so that lives can be saved (and „me too“ finally and mercyfully did away with the lie, that women are safe in western, civilised world. We are not. The majority of us learned this one way or another already as little girls). But times have changed forever. With voting in trump, many women saw, that they and their safety, their dignity, count for nothing. That a man, who even said himself, that he harrasses women, even teenagers, is still not evil enough to not be voted for. It was a moment of reckoning and it was the tipping point for many women. The things happening around the world right now showed many women, that we have to take things in our own hands now.

Ferdi February 4, 2018 at 12:44 am

Sorry if I made you angry somehow, but I can only speak for my own comments. Having said this:
1) Donald Trump lives thousands of miles away from cycling’s homeland. The US/Trump perspective is, I think, very much alien to continental Europe, which is where real pro cycling happens. If the debate in say, Italy, turns out to be similar than in the States, then something is wrong, because it’s not the same context. At all.
2) I just disagree with the whole “catch-all” patriarchy theory. I think it’s intellectually destitute. No, me looking down a woman’s cleavage or some guy enjoying the eyes of the girl in the red jersey, have no relation with some other men committing rape or murder. If you’re going to re-assert the linkage, show me the evidence. Otherwise, be aware that you might be insulting all female-looks-enjoyers who are not rapists, harassers, or murderers.
3) Most of the women I have seen complaining about podium girls are not cycling fans. It’s my personal observation, which matches well the fact that most women in general are not cycling fans (like most men are not, but quite a bit less).

Anonymous February 4, 2018 at 10:39 am

@Ferdi: Your answers are like jam to me, too sticky to wade through. There is no real, definite point. Maybe because you can’t understand, that women worldwide (I am from Europe) have the same experiences and that we feel it is a stab in our heart, that people vote for a person, who says he can attack women’s personal spaces as he likes. Maybe, because you think yourself some kind of god, who sees all and knows all and whose feelings and personal observations magically become reality. You answer is ideology and personal beliefs presented as objective proof and it is also getting things confused. You don’t even are aware, that you mix sexuality with sexism etc.. The reason for that is, that you think what you believe the world to be, is similar to truth and reality. But it is not. I just got followed by a guy home last week, because I accidentely looked his way in the train home from work. These things are terrifying. When do women such things to men? When and where do men live in the same fear of women attacking them, like we women do (and me too showed, that it are millions of us feeling this way). When do we in public touch a man‘s crotch, like it happened 3 weeks ago to me in the train? Where are the thousands of men, who get raped and murdered by women?

If you really think, patriarchy and presenting women as sexual objects (because these women don‘t are allowed to turn up without make up and in large, baggy jogging pants, with their hair undone, are they?) has no connection to the fact, that to many men women are objects, that they can use, whose safety, dignity and safe space can be disregarded and has to make way, when a man wants something, you succeed in closing your eyes really tight very well. But I daresay nothing will shake your „personal observations“, which you then mistake as objective truth.

The links between patriarchy and sexism are clear and proven since many years, it isn’t even a new or debated link and there are enough books and studies about that. I am shocked, that anyone can still ignore that today. If you really want to learn about it, an easy reading is De Salvos book about Virginia Woolf and the sexual abuse in her childhood. There is a very good chapter I’ve just reread, on patriarchy, imperialism, war and how these things foster rape, child abuse, harrasment and murder of women. How both sexes are victims of this (that is, why I will never understand, why sensible, decent men don‘t fight like lions for real equality), with the only difference, that one side is trained as the attacker, while the other is trained to get attacked. There are million ways we women are trained to put ourself second (and vice versa, men are trained to put themselves first, this is simple logic), that we ourselves even don’t realise, because we are so used to it. I always thought, I had freed myself of much of this, but in the wake of the last year and the awakening of many women and listening to their stories, I was shocked to the core, realising how I take myself back everyday to be able to live in a world, where women still have to hide their natural voices to get heard, where women are still second to men, where our voice still has no weight compared to a man‘s voice (and then men say „I don‘t see it this way“. Of course not, fool! Because you are not in that position. And it isn‘t interesting what you „see“ or not. We tell you it is this way, so for once take us serious!).

Today things are not really different than in the past. There still are little children, who get abused this very second. There are women getting raped and murdered the very second you read this. And in 99% of the cases this is done by men. And men do this since the dawn of our race. When will more people open their eyes to the fact, that these are no individual cases? One case you could call individual, maybe even a hundred a year, but we talk about tens of thousands since centuries every year. These are not individual cases, there lies a structure behind this. It is like slapping us in our faces to deny this.

And as long as we live in a world where men dominate women, things will never change. Because this domination breeds inequality in every way, it gives many men the feeling, they don‘t have to control themselves, because it just are women, it is just „a little fun“ (that is how the father of the guy who raped an unconscious women with various objects, called it). They are told, they can discount what a woman says, because women are „emotional“ and „no, means yes in reality“. Where power is not equal, there is abuse of power. I fail to see, how anyone, women or men, can rest or be satisfied with the status quo, as long as this happens.

I don‘t mean to attack you, but I am also not ready to let things slip by. Part of our problems today stem from the attitude, that people take their feelings, beliefs and observations as universal truths – but they just are not. A very simple example: A few years ago, people thought a piece on this blog about doping (or another of these subjects people like to go on about, like radios in races etc), which got tons of comments would be the most read piece. It was not. A piece about a race with almost none comments, was. Observations are no proof, even less are observations, which are founded on bias. Some people see, what they want to see.

J Evans February 4, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Anonymous: +1000 to every word.

J Evans February 2, 2018 at 11:40 am

It’s hard to know which puts cycling in a worse light – the continuing use of ‘pretty girls’ or the preposterous rules on doping?
Just have the rule say, ‘If you’re over, you’re over’. I can’t see how Froome can hope to get away with this, but then again IF the system is corrupt… who knows. Interesting that the ban will start from the date of the decision (and still include the Vuelta) – that could be his whole season gone. I hope this is the case and I hope it happens soon.
To answer my first question, it’s still the sexism.

CA February 2, 2018 at 8:48 pm

The use of physically good looking people in sport, entertainment, business, etc. is widely used but in reality very little of cycling’s public perception is down to the continuing use of podium girls. The public DOES NOT care one bit about it.

Our ongoing doping public perception is by far worse. The limbo that Froome is in is worse than if he gets a 2-year sentence for the salbutamol.

We need much much MUCH faster anti-doping cases. Technically, Froome’s case could have been resolved last November. There should be a rule that if the UCI/WADA/etc. cannot prosecute a case within 2-weeks, then it is thrown out. This wait is nuts, and it turns people right off the sport.

gabriele February 3, 2018 at 10:58 am

When did you have your last direct phone call with “the public”, shouting about what they DID OR DIDN’T care about?
I think that if you read the opinions of “the public”, say, on inrng’s comments section, you might discover that a part of the fans care quite much about it.
You might note that it’s not only my comments complaining about that. And if you went through another couple of cycling websites or forums, you’d notice the same.

Nick February 3, 2018 at 5:52 pm

Froome’s case couldn’t be resolved last November, because he raised a defence but hadn’t had the chance to prove it yet. Should the UCI have its case kicked out because the rider hadn’t finished preparing his case?

CA February 3, 2018 at 6:54 pm

Gabriele – ask any of your friends who are not cycling fans why they don’t like the sport. None will say it’s because of podium girls. They’ll say it’s because in their minds all cyclists are dirty. I have a friend who keeps jokingly asking me “how many steroids did you do when you raced?”

Yes, podium girls is arguably a prehistoric practice, but let’s not make into something way bigger than it actually is. None of Inrng’s commenters will stop watching the sport because of podium girls, but they would if you can’t believe any athlete’s performances are on a fair level.

Nick – Other sports resolve doping cases within 2-weeks. Froome should have submitted his case within 2-weeks of being notified (you know, when the apparent conditions were fresh and potentially still reoccuring). Clearly it is possible to enlist the help of a legal team who can consult with doctors within a 2-week period.

J Evans February 3, 2018 at 7:05 pm

For me, sexual equality is more important than whether or not people watch cycling.
The objectification of women is a worldwide issue with a huge impact on individual well being and that of all of our societies.
I suppose very few people do stop watching cycling because of the use of podium girls, but for 50% of humanity, it’s just one of a myriad examples where society tells them what they are for.

gabriele February 3, 2018 at 9:09 pm

“None of Inrng’s commenters will stop watching the sport because of podium girls, but they would if you can’t believe any athlete’s performances are on a fair level”.
Ah ah ah… come on!
I really hope that at least *some* cycling fans wouldn’t leave only because of that. Yours sincerely wouldn’t. And hasn’t. Are you seriously telling me that after what’s been happening for decades now most cycling (or pro sport) fans aren’t assuming that *maybe* just *maybe* it’s not that fair and square on the starting line? I’m not speaking of being clean, obviously; but if I got what you mean, we’re both speaking of a reasonable “fairness” among competitors – which can’t be taken for granted, either.
Feel assured that a good deal of cycling fans knew that when Armstrong was happening that was complete bulls**t in terms of fairness – some indeed left, many stayed. Through very long years.
Surviving cycling fans are now among the most resilient when doping is concerned. Sadly, that’s why some parts of the sport still prefer to be daring and use it as a weapon rather than settling the whole issue. I’ll agree with you that they’re playing with fire. Some fans are new and not seasoned enough to resist the scare.

That said, J Evans replied you quite well.

I’d add that maybe people don’t just stop watching cycling because of podium girl, but something in the general attitude of cycling about gender, which also includes podium girls and the resistance against eliminating their role, makes several people uncomfortable or just keeps away even before they might get interested. There are worse sport, no doubt, but let’s try to solve this if we can.
General rule in activism (or life). The existence of different problems, gambling, petrodollars, dictatorships, doping shouldn’t ever be an excuse not to tackle any other problem, especially if the latter is easily solved. We’d be stuck forever in a debate about what’s the most serious problem in the world, the one we need to start with.

Finally, the problem with most of the (few) people I know who don’t like cycling is that they can’t understand what’s happening on the road. I’ll concede that a huge lot of fans aren’t able to do that, either, but, well, that’s what I notice around me. I pretty much don’t know a single person who stopped watching because of doping cases. I suppose that such people exist – better said, I’m sure that such people exist, and in relevant numbers. They just don’t belong to my social context.

Larry T February 4, 2018 at 8:39 am

FYI Gabriele – I can’t count the number of Italians (yes, Italians who live in the country that I believe still has more pro riders than any other?) who have told me they no longer watch cycling because they can’t believe in the performances. Few of them are die-hard fans like the readers here, but the general-interest consumers the sport’s sponsors and advertisers used to be interested in.

CA February 5, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Gabriele – I think we interpreted the Indurain/Armstrong era’s differently.

But please don’t get me wrong, like the rest of the developed world, I am fully in agreement to increase the role of women in every aspect of life, even to the point where the world’s power pendulum swings in their favour. However, with that being said, I don’t know if firing all podium girls is the answer. Why not go the opposite direction and choose the podium as a forum to shine the light on female racers (give the podium award presentation job to a retired female cyclist), or give the podium award presenter an MC role too, or something. Someone above said that Hinault’s role on the podium is because he earned it, well female (and male) models have to learn their craft as well. If you think that industry is purely about “looking good” shows your ignorance. Models have to work very hard and deal with a lot of garbage.

Larry T’s point is what I meant, cycling has a much bigger issue than podium girls. We need the public to really get behind the athletes and believe in them or else this sport is doomed to be a secondary/tertiary level sport. We’ve already shot the golden goose (Lance), who and it is not possible to deny this, was the most bankable star the sport has ever seen. We all knew what he was doing, and if this was football (American OR European), he wouldn’t have been forced to protect his name in court. There are many jerks who dominate both footballs, but they NEVER have to answer to doping tribunals or fight fraud charges in court, even though they are on similar programs to Lance, Indurain, Pantani, Ulrich, etc. It’s a complicated situation, but I’ll leave you with that.

Happy Monday everyone!

Dylan February 2, 2018 at 12:15 pm

They could keep the podium girls, just introduce scantily-clad, kiss-dispensing podium boys for the women’s races to balance things out? Sagan-style ‘aris pinching obligatory. In fact what am I saying, they should have podium boys and podium girls, at both the men and women’s events.

But no seriously, it’s outrageous. When even the darts is making you look sexist, old fashioned and anachronistic…you know you have an issue.

Anonymous February 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm

There’s actually no way to reconcile cycling’s (or F1’s) actions re podium girls (assuming based on newly-“enlightened” views of gender equity, etc.) and these sports’ recent forays into countries who view and treat women as second-class citizens, and much worse.

gabriele February 2, 2018 at 4:11 pm

You don’t need to reconcile everything.
Any step forward is valuable as such, unless it becomes purplewashing of sort and ends up every other process with a self-indulgent full stop.
But motorsport and cycling are far enough from any women-friendly appearance to make the risk of purplewashing the smallest problem.

And there’s still a difference between working with people whose stance looks flawed, to say the least, and doing something wrong yourself.
In the latter case you can stop the wrongdoing just deciding it, in the former one you may feel at peace with your conscience – which isn’t bad at all – and even hope that your boycott strategy eventually generates pressure and change, but it’s still far from granted – at the end of the day, it will always depend on the involved subjects.
However, I’d agree that some situations are so blatant that cutting economic ties, to start with, would be highly recommended.

MattF February 3, 2018 at 2:04 am

No, just reconcile with those things that upset your sensibilities. Ridding the sport of sponsorship from the proceeds of gambling, petrodollars, suspect regimes and other noble causes is another step altogether.

gabriele February 3, 2018 at 10:49 am

Exactly, what part of “any” (as in “any step forward”) weren’t you able to understand?

MattF February 4, 2018 at 3:52 am

Gabriele – I’m not struggling to understand the point you’re making, just pointing out that there is diversity of opinion and yours is not always correct. You may well be the most intelligent contributor to inrng’s blog – bravo. You’re certainly the most verbose.

TourdeUtah February 3, 2018 at 6:43 pm

That would spell the death knell of cycling to eliminate those forms of sponsorship.

Larry T February 2, 2018 at 5:31 pm

“….a glance at the content of host broadcaster RAI says the Giro is nothing exceptional.” is an interesting comment. Out of the last 20 years I’ve spent more than 25% of my time here in Italy and while I don’t watch a lot of TV, when flipping the channels I find most of the blatant “T&A” is on the privately owned channels like those owned by Silvio Berlusconi rather than the state-owned RAI 1, 2 or 3.
Same with RAI Sport, where the cycling RadioCorsa weekly show often features interviews with female racers as well as men.
If you oppose young women on the podium or modeling the various leaders jerseys I think your beef should be with RCS, not RAI.

gabriele February 3, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Well spot, Larry. Your local skills really shone here. You’re absolutely right, *yet* RAI isn’t immune to sexism, either (and you accordingly wrote “most T&A” above, indeed, not “all of it”). Most responsibility is on RCS, which is managing the podium girls and probably also asking for the final runway show. However, John Ball above is right, too: TV production, which is RAI, tends to show “cute images” when the coverage is down: babies, dogs and… *cuties*. It’s not as overtly sexualised as the typical football match (or even Olympics!) when the crowd is screened through in order to find sexy girls (the only alternative is “funny characters”), but the sexist touch is noticeable all the same.

Larry T February 3, 2018 at 2:45 pm

I guess the “sexy” part can go both ways? I remember years ago a woman on a race-chasing tour with us brought her mother along. Upon first view of the race in-person, mom smiled and said something like, “Hmm, I don’t believe those young men on the bicycles are wearing any underwear. I’m starting to understand what you girls like about this sport.”
Should we ask the TV directors to show the podium ceremonies with camera shots only above the waist?

Ferdi February 3, 2018 at 10:51 pm

That’s also a part of it. All of the females who have had the privilege (or disgrace) to share my attention to cycling have always made remarks about “male riders’ intimacies”, their bodily functions, and their protruding buttocks.

gabriele February 4, 2018 at 12:05 am

I hope you both noticed that the situation of men and women isn’t equal or comparable even in our “enlightened” societies, didn’t you?
Which means that the problems posed by the “same” kind of situation or attitude, when directed towards the privileged gender or the others, become very different things.
As I stated above very clearly, I can imagine a better world where we can have “podium girls” and no complaints. Not our current one, sadly.

Larry T February 4, 2018 at 8:26 am

Of course you are correct- things are far from equal. I was trying to illustrate that some will take offense (or pleasure) no matter what is done. Just like most things, just because some is good doesn’t mean more is always better.

AK February 2, 2018 at 11:03 pm

I always found those podium girls standing around doing nothing but hand out flowers and kisses a bit weird. I never watch the podium ceremony anyway, I only want to see the race and possibly sometimes an interview with the riders,I don’t see the point in watching someone put on a jersey on tv.
But it’s a good thing if they replace the podium girls with kids, they will have the time of their lives.

who February 3, 2018 at 8:09 am

I have no problems with the podium girls. On the contrary. And I did not hear before of any females who had problems with it (except perhaps some hardcore feminists). In stead of taking away some opportunities for the ladies to earn some money, I think it is much more important that woman-cycling gets more opportunities from the organizers of races. By the way, if you have to work for your money, it can be seen as a kind of exploitation, as well for man as woman.
Furthermore, as long as there is no final clarity about his case, I think Froome should race as well the giro as the tour de france if he wants, without later being removed from the results. And we should educate the spectators a little on how to behave.

gabriele February 3, 2018 at 10:54 am

I suspect you generally don’t “hear” much from the *female* half of the world.
And perhaps those you call “hardcore feminist” are just the few you happen to listen to who aren’t sexist (latest news: *females* can be sexist, too).
Do those women you speak about define themselves as “hardcore feminist” or just as “feminist” (or maybe just as “persons”)?
I’m quite curious, I’d love to know if the label is yours, because it would made quite much explicit what your position is.

who February 3, 2018 at 5:57 pm

May be I can explain my position by asking you a question: when you walk in the street and you see a beautiful woman do you look at her (in a discrete way and when your wife is not around) or do you prefer to look at a beautiful man?
As a heterosexual man I prefer to look at woman. And I think it is one step too far and a little bit hypocrite perhaps to call such behavior immediately sexist. With the term hardcore feminist I mean woman who hate all man because they are man.
Because podium girls play a ceremonial role I don’t see it automatically as a inferior role. If you want to do something about the inequality then imo the way is to organize more races for woman.

gabriele February 3, 2018 at 6:09 pm

May I ask you to read carefully my comment above and try to sort out the answers you seem to need while they had already been explicitly given?

gabriele February 3, 2018 at 6:10 pm

The more extense and elaborated comment, I mean,

Anonymous February 3, 2018 at 1:46 pm

I hope this Froome “case” drags on and on and on and on and on and on…..its just what the sport needs.

CM February 3, 2018 at 6:18 pm

@AK, I’d be careful about exploiting kids.
Nothing’s simple is it? There’s nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
Women as sexual objects? If they weren’t you would not be here.
Why else would the podium malarkey be watched at all? -to see Bernard Hinault?
Better to have a jersey, bouquet and cuddly-toy dispenser machine, like a cash point ATM.
Most riders don’t need the flowers and toys, though Mark Cavendish has said his little girl thinks he races to win flowers.
Froome could just go up and push a button -if it didn’t make him breathless.
Maybe they need the girls to get the riders up there. I offer you this:
“MOST men will happily drink a vile coffee if it was made by an attractive woman”, scientists have confirmed.
Research by the Institute for Studies found that men would drink a freakish mixture of hot milk and chocolate dusting if it was made by an attractive girl that they are inexplicably trying to impress.
Professor Henry Brubaker said: “If it was a young student type guy just trying to earn enough money to get through his studies then nine out of 10 men would immediately demand a proper cup of coffee.
“They also might call him ‘kid’ or ‘son’ when doing it just to reinforce their position in the cafe as an alpha male.
“Whereas if it’s a beautiful young woman who made it, the men would not only drink it they would even return the cup to the counter to save the girl having to come and take it back.”
Coffee drinking suit wearer Nathan Doing-Uptop said: “I go into two cafes during my lunchtime. One where the coffee’s pretty terrible but the waitress is lovely and the other where I can actually drink the cup of coffee that I buy.”
Be uxurious. As for purplewashing – just let the wife do it.

Steve February 4, 2018 at 3:10 pm

You have quoted well known satirical news site The Daily Mash to illustrate- well, to be honest I don’t know what. Your gullibility? Your hideously outdated and effortlessly unfunny attitudes? Your confident ignorance? It’s a mystery.

J Evans February 3, 2018 at 7:14 pm

If you want to know how widespread sexism is you only have to read some of the comments on this page – or, indeed, almost anywhere online (and you will, of course, find much worse elsewhere).
Many seem to only be able to view things from their own POV: I could write much more on that, but gabriele has already explained and they have either not read or failed to understand that.
Learn what feminism actually means: it means equality of the sexes. It does not mean what the conservative right have told you it means.
As for the notion of ‘hardcore feminists’ who hate men, seriously, how many people have you met in your life who fit that description?
If you don’t see misogyny at least 10 times more frequently than you see this ‘man-hating’ then you are not viewing from an even faintly objective stance.
I’m a man and I’m not immune to sexism, nor any other kind of bigotry, but I can’t delude myself to how this world actually is.

Ferdi February 3, 2018 at 11:12 pm

What problem are you exactly trying to address?

J Evans February 4, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Anonymous has explained it to you very thoroughly above in your conversation with her.
I have nothing to add that will make you comprehend this.

who February 5, 2018 at 10:52 am

I am fully aware of the fact that we live in a male dominated world in which life for woman is not always easy. And I would like to see more equality between the sexes in all fields, as it is imo not only better for woman but also for man. But this does not change my view on the phenomenon of podium-girls as I expressed above. Don’t throw away the baby with the bathing water.

Matt February 3, 2018 at 10:41 pm

Its all going a bit far pandering to the growing in influence ‘politically correct brigade’. Where will it stop? May aswell stop the girls at my daughters gymnastics club from wearing glue on sequins etc during their competition’s. Why not get everyone to wear state issued only clothes like they used to in China years back! Have only old ex pro cyclists present on podiums, if they happen to be female ban them from wearing make up. Alot of corporate promotion and podium women probably enjoy working in the rolls and making some money. All its doing is reducing employment opportunities. Let people decide for themselves, if they want to be a podium girl they should be able too.

Matt February 3, 2018 at 11:11 pm

As for the Froome case, hes got to serve a suspension. Rules are rules. See him back raciny next year.

Anonymous February 4, 2018 at 10:11 am

As if F1 wasn’t boring enough, now there wont even be a bit of skirt to ogle. Bernie would never have allowed it. I hope they don’t loose the girls on the podium, some cracking looking bits of stuff there, wish I was good enough to be the thorn between the roses.

BenW February 5, 2018 at 4:53 pm

Go on, tell us some mother-in-law jokes.

Jesus.

gabriele February 4, 2018 at 12:39 pm

I’ll try to step aside because a more relevant voice entered the debate.

Before, let me stress that a fundamental point was made by Anonymous above: personal experience or opinion is just that, and it’s quite limited. That’s why we pay people, usually the best available, to spend their life studying things, using every sort of mental or practical resource to overcome biased position and one-sided perspectives. Most of them also know that the work won’t ever be done for good and that – not matter how much plurality you bring in – you’ll be often wrong or partial. And that’s why it’s a huge, collective, never-ending job.

Larry, please read again these lines you last answered to: “I pretty much don’t know a single person who stopped watching because of doping cases. I suppose that such people exist – better said, I’m sure that such people exist, and in relevant numbers. They just don’t belong to my social context”. I never pretended that mine was an universal truth, just a partial one – sufficient to prove my point (cycling survives doping).
That said, you might also notice that there’s a difference between what people say and what really happens. TV data may help to speak about “general, mass-market, not-hardcore fans”.
In Italy viewing figures crumbled after the Pantani shock, but they’ve been steadily growing since 2004 included, recently getting to sort of a plateau which doesn’t equal the Pantani years but which is all the same notable, better than the interval between Moser/Saronni and Chiappucci/Bugno, for example.
Belgium and the Netherlands didn’t suffer any huge doping-related impact of doping cases on spectators, neither did Australia (I suppose they assume their guys are clean!)… or the UK (until now). The USADA-Armstrong case didn’t harm viewing figures. The big trouble was Operación Puerto in 2006-2007, which reduced hugely USA and Germany viewers (or the USA guys just stepped away with Lance himself). Spain wasn’t harmed, maybe because Pereiro and Sastre were winning the Tour, but that’s what happened. France, like Italy just slowly went up and up.
European audience, except Germany’s, had been harmed by Armstrong and his winning ways, when no scandal spoiled cycling’s image, while it didn’t really suffer because doping scandals (OP, CERA, Cofidis, Rabobank, TUEs etc.). Once again it was “clean Froome” who brought TdF audience down. We’ll now see the effect of him being caught.

MattF, Ferdi, it’s not just my personal POV. I’m not *that* intelligent. It’s an informed opinion. There’s a lot of science on this subject. You might start reading something – or listening to people less privileged than you or your current acquaintances.

Final figures: in *Europe* about half of the women suffered significant sexual harassment on their workplace. Close to nobody denounces not to lose their job. One out of three women in Europe suffered sexual or physical abuse by men. It’s been calculated than more than half of them will during the course of their life. The worst data, by far, come from UK, Germany or Sweden, but analysts suppose that it’s due to the fact that women there feel safer or more indipendent and dare to denounce. If it’s not the most serious social problem we’ve got in Europe, it sure gets on the podium of shame and collective damage. The fact that you can’t see it or call it a vogue is part of it.

Ferdi February 4, 2018 at 8:46 pm

@gabriele

It’s not so difficult to understand that one can think that symbolic issues like podium girls have no real bearing on certain criminal or uncivil behaviours without condoning those behaviours (which is what you are apparently attributing to me). It’s just saying that those behaviours probably won’t change much through a “cultural change of symbolic or educational import” (at least not of the gross foucaultian catch-all “structuralist” that is en vogue these days). And that hence those forced changes will only cause friction and sense of loss, without achieving anything other than making things worse than they were in 2000. My last advice: slow down, don’t force anything too much. The cause of equality/fairness between sexes was progressing much better between 1970 and 2000, than it is nowadays.

chava February 4, 2018 at 9:02 pm

You might want to check those sources that 50% of women in Europe suffer “significant” sexual harrasment. And especially stats from Sweden should be considered carefully.

Also, do you believe cultures that do what they can to eradicate female sexuality (or “objectification” of women) fare any better in his regard?

There a lot of factors when analyzing such a complex problem as this. And you can be sure that vaguely defined concepts such as “patriarchy” or “objectification” are used to simplify rather than illuminate.

Larry T February 5, 2018 at 8:35 am

Just wanted to point out these people DO exist – in Italy, where one would think it might matter least, especially when you consider the TV ratings you cite. But I’m not limiting this to a “social circle” as this is based on conversations with Italians over many years in many, many settings.

Somers February 4, 2018 at 5:13 pm

gab,

If i at all understand the zeitgeist as it concerns the themes of gender and morality the following are some things you may wish to consider when trying to persuade others to adopt your views:
– discard rhetoric about “privilege”. While it may dominate pop-psychology and sociology discussions on gender and race, its assumptions are offensive and false.
– try to grapple with (or at least show that you have considered) the consequences of the views that you expound. It is the failure to do this that leads people to (at times, rightly) identify what is usually referred to as ‘hypocrisies’.
– and finally (although, this should always be first) if an argument has any support from the concept of morality or fairness, establish the basis for such things. As one philosopher recently noted, “it humours me that I have many colleagues who not 20 years ago exclaimed with great gusto “there is no right and wrong! There is no truth!” and now stand as one with the most moral and religious in human history.”

gabriele February 4, 2018 at 7:23 pm

All I’m left to hope with is that you guys are more similar to Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones than you or I would ever imagine judging merely from the lookings of your strong jaws or her round cheeks.
Slow learners, like her, but you’ll eventually learn.
Or die.
Of old age, of course 😀

ChrisSK February 4, 2018 at 8:43 pm

I know a former Giro podium girl… slovakian… entered miss Slovakia back in the day, didn’t quite make it to the top of modeling industry, so their agent got them a gig on the Giro podiums for 2-3 seasons. I wouldn’t say they thought it was anything demeaning to be part of the presentation ceremony. The travel and sightseeing was a highlight, and the prestige for being a podium girl was something they were proud of… so.. what’s all the fuss about?

TomH February 4, 2018 at 10:38 pm

Is there any woman forced at “gun point” to be a podium girl, or who hated it yet kept doing it?
Many would would consider it a good way to earn extra cash, or to publicize their “brand” as springboard to a modeling or acting career.
In the USA, many powerful, wealthy, hollywood male executives have finally been exposed as long term abusers and rapists … apparently it was an “open secret” in that industry and the women stayed silent for the cash and career advancement. Even after the women became famous enough to not fear for their careers, they still stayed silent and watched other younger women suffer the same fate … that’s just cowardice & hypocrisy.
But AFAIK no equivalent, poisonous abuse of women has permeated cycling (but I could be wrong).
In the US ,the “anti objectify women” activists are predominantly radical feminists, or their political supporters pandering for votes. Almost universally, these radical feminists are singularly unattractive , so models and other attractive women are always in their sights.

J Evans February 5, 2018 at 11:35 am

The men stayed silent too. Of course, they were not in fear for their own personal safety, solely their careers.
Your misogynistic comments about ‘radical feminists’ say nothing about them and quite a lot about you.

Overall, the level of sexism on this page is as appalling as it is unsurprising.
Sadly, I’d say that inrng commenters tend towards the more liberal end of the spectrum, which only makes what I read here all the more depressing.
Many men seem to view any criticism of men as a criticism of them – or else I can’t understand why or how they could hold such viewpoints.
The closedmindedness and resistance to any change – in their dominance – or any ideas that suggest the status quo is not quite right is an example of how our society actually is.

gabriele February 5, 2018 at 2:25 pm

The Reply mode went wild, which I consider a sign from Internet’s deities about the opportunity of quitting the debate.

Some sparse answers:

– @Nick @chava Re: bonobo, I’m surprised by the sudden lack of reading skills from you guys. Let me copy and paste: “ethology doesn’t help either with a huge variety of different behaviours among the species more similar to human beings”.
My point is *not* that the bonobo society shows how we human should *naturally be* – something which makes little to no sense to me – but that it’s *very hard* to use animals as a reference point to understand what our biological legacy is like in terms of behaviour.
Lack of consistency in the evidence we get from ethology, sometimes even going against commonplace assumptions, supports my point but the argumentation is not symmetrical: no single case can work the other way around, unless variety is eventually erased for good (also note that any stereotype view of animal behaviour which confirms current human social structures which the scientists belong to, always should be scrutinised *more severely* precisely because of the obvious cultural bias: there were troubles with a recent work about birds who were cheating on their partner). The bonobo case is just blatant and fun. But we could explore species which are more different in genetic terms but whose brain might be more similar to ours. And we’ll get more surprises.
Plus, we’re now starting to pose question about “animal cultures” which weren’t even conceivable because of the long-term influence of some… symbolic structures! (the now suspicious nature/culture – or “nurture” – binarity).

– @Ferdi. Ow gosh. You call that an article. Now I’m starting to understand where the problem lies. Come on, the author hadn’t even got her PhD (still hasn’t, I think) and the piece is full of biological blunders. She’s been trying to spread that material on several fanzines or blogs like the one you’re quoting. She’s got *two* published academic articles, all of them with the typical four authors, and she’s never the leading one. One of the two articles is on one of those multidisciplinary pay-to-publish international reviews. The other is: “Changes in preference for male faces during the menstrual cycle in a Spanish population”. No change has been detected during the menstrual cycle, by the way (I’d call that “clickbait”)!, but apparently women taking the pill slightly prefer faces which are “less masculine”. Whatever.

– @chava. Evidence about the biological origin of behaviours tends to be abundant… but *poor*. Although it’s heavily funded, typically by foundations from *rich* families (I’m not joking! For example, look at where the researcher Ferdi quoted has been working), it’s generally poor science, and not by chance. It’s far from easy to kick out undesired variables, it’s far from easy to get a decent sample both in quantity and in quality (strong selection bias) while keeping it under proper control, research staff isn’t usually selected in order to properly exclude very relevant cultural bias. Finally, but this is a bit sophisticated and indeed secundary, most of the time we’re speaking of researchers with “inadequate” formation, that is, coming from fields where you’re more typically working with individuals or within a clinical perspective. Collective phenomena like culture fail to be grasped by such approaches. Others come from biology and are not used to the huge feedback effect human subjects produce when compared to most animals (esp. given the conditions under which animals are studied while humans, for now at least, luckily aren’t).

@chava Re: harassment figures. Go tell the United Nations. But maybe you don’t like or trust ’em. That would be a second similarity you share with the current hippoPOTUS. Genetic links?

– @J Evans, I think we should leave the likes of TomH alone. I couldn’t make up a better specimen to prove the urgency of fighting back sexism and the way it works “all around”, as a cultural system indeed.

Ferdi February 5, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Gabriele: you attack the writer, but it’s the concepts in her last paragraphs that I want to draw your attention to, regardless obviously of her CV (come on!). Of course there’s a wealth of literature on the subject, by many authors. But her point that “the cultural theory of patriarchy hasn’t been evaluated” (let alone validated, I may add) is solid-rock. Again, you force me to repeat myself: it’s not that there are “bigots” who don’t care for femicide, rape, or discrimination because they’re “afraid of losing privileges”, it’s simply that some of us don’t believe that forced symbolic changes are of any use in that regard and can actually be counter-productive.

Anonymous February 5, 2018 at 4:35 pm

Once a veritable “safe space” for intelligent cycling discussion, the comments section has degenerated into (and not just in connection with this post) a discouraging morass of political correctness, moral relativism and grievance culture. Farewell.

The Inner Ring February 5, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Comments on this will be locked. It’s fine to exchange ideas but once people start arguing they’re unlikely to change minds. Remember it is quite ok and even enjoyable for others to hold different views.

The subject of “podium girls” is not a black and white one, there will long be room for people to help with podium ceremonies, but it is likely that the employment of “umbrella girls” will change, maybe not in 2018 but at some point.

Ferdi February 4, 2018 at 8:23 pm

Very nuanced and objective, wisely avoiding to put the blame for multi-factor complex issues on a simple vague cultural “system” or “structure”, pertinenty bringing biological hypothesis to explain behaviours and complement cultural/educational, and not making assumptions on the functioning of a male’s brain without empirical evidence or even 1st hand experience (you’re not a man). 😔 I’ll leave the discussion here.

gabriele February 4, 2018 at 8:53 pm

1) Violence knows little nuances
2) Objectivity is overrated
3) System/Structure = …multi-factor complex issues ^__^
Yeah. That’s it. Happy you got it.
Lots of books describing every single facet of it in detail (I can provide a syllabus for the level zero course)
4) biological hypothesis = mainly bulls**t, centuries looking for it and nothing ever stood against growing anthropological or archeological evidence. It’s not like a biological basis doesn’t exist, it sure does, but the *other* factors have proven themselves able to overwrite *it* completely – to the point that we can barely know what *it* consists of; ethology doesn’t help either with a huge variety of different behaviours among the species more similar to human beings, most of them being the opposite of what the standard misinformed conservative man would expect (hell, bonobo are our closest relatives and they’re a sort of wild hippy matriarchy)
5) feel assured, it’s pretty much the easiest thing to make assumptions about men’s “brain” because male-made and male-oriented representations do saturate our shared context. Have a look to the percentage of women vs. men when expressing your thoughts, life experience, POV on the shared public scene is concerned (any sort of it, politics, cinema, corporations, academy, media…). We’ve got tons of empirical evidence about men’s mental processes. Probably, way too much

I promised to try and step aside, and the OT is already gargantuan.
I’ll try harder.

gabriele February 4, 2018 at 8:53 pm

This was a reply @Ferdi 8:23 pm

chava February 4, 2018 at 9:10 pm

ad 4) No there’s a lot of evidence that’s pretty solid. Also the bonobo ‘thesis’ has been wildly exaggerated.

There’s a reason blog discussions such as these never ends. It is probably *the* subject where the current “culture wars” plays out most viciously

Ferdi February 5, 2018 at 11:29 am

Maybe you’ll appreciate the conclusións of this article… http://quillette.com/2017/10/29/human-behaviour-feminism/

Nick February 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm

At the risk of taking the OT discussion OT, bonobos and chimps are equally close relations to humans. And while the bonobos do seem to be the wild hippy types whose first response to a social problem is to try to have sex with it, chimps appear to be fully psychotic, alpha male-dominated, so that evidence seems to swing both ways. (like the bonobos.)

Also, that Froome, eh?

gabriele February 4, 2018 at 9:49 pm

The reason is fear by so many men (for a change! – and of a change). And this is indeed good news.

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