Champagne celebrations

Roux FDJ

You’ve the riders spraying champagne on the podium sometimes. In case you didn’t notice, it’s a symbolic gesture that some have linked to, err, male ejaculation.

But it’s a relatively recent idea. In the 1950s the French Grand Prix motor racing event took place in Reims and seeing as the city is the champagne capital of France, the winning driver – in this case Fangio – was awarded a bottle of bubbly as a prize and a tradition was born, namely that the winning driver was awarded a bottle of champagne.

In 1967 Gurney was the man at Le Mans

Fast forward to 1967 and the Le Mans 24 hour race. The winning driver Daniel Sexton Gurney stepped onto the podium and was given his now obligatory bottle of champagne. It’s here accounts differ. One says he was so excited that he just decided to spray the crowd; another suggests that the bottle was not chilled and the driver was overheated, so instead of sipping, he sprayed.

Either way this started off a tradition that has become renowned the world over. It’s perfect marketing for champagne sales too, forever associating it with success.

16 thoughts on “Champagne celebrations”

  1. Never thought about why Champagne has been the drink of victory. Thanks.
    I’d say New Years Eve probably keeps the bubbly in business, better than any other moment in life.

  2. @Chuffy: Horrible? Horribly expensive yes, but it can be really good…. Ah, well “tout les gouts sont dans la nature!”
    And by the way, the beverage in the main picture (where the podium girl is inelegantly sprayed) is not champagne. It’s cava.

  3. As a certified Grumpy Old Fart this aping of F1 annoys me hugely. Cycling does not need alcohol abused in this way. We have our own traditions to keep.

  4. Perhaps, if pro cycling copied more from professional motor sports it would be more accessible to the average sports fan, draw more attention, command more sponsorships and no-longer have the lowest paid professional athletes in the world. And, maybe, just maybe we’d have organizing bodies who were forced to be a little more transparent.

    Nah! What am I thinking? I must be crazy!

  5. @durishin, i think you maybe crazy. Mostly because you suggest that cycling has the “the lowest paid professional athletes in the world”.
    A bit of an overstatement.
    Cycling is way ahead in terms of salary of
    Cricket, Australian rules Football, Rugby, Swimming, Triathlon, Athletics (accept maybe Bolt), any female sport,
    To suggest a sport where the best get 5 plus million a year is the lowest paid sport is a bit of a sctretch.

  6. @Oliver

    “And by the way, the beverage in the main picture (where the podium girl is inelegantly sprayed) is not champagne. It’s cava.”

    Oh yes. There’s some writing on her top. I didn’t notice that before…


  7. You’ve got the title 100% wrong. The title should be “Sparkling Wine Celebrations”

    Why? Champagne is a kind of expensive (!) sparkling wine. Champagne being a trademarked geographic location from which the grapes for the sparkling wine were procured.

    There are other sparkling wines that are as delightful as a Champagne at 1/2 or less the price. Cava (mostly Spanish wines) and Prosecco (mostly Italian wines) are two great examples. Your bicycle racer spraying the podium girl is doing so with a Cava.

    Drink more sparkling wines!

  8. @james there are some cyclists who are paid lots (contador et al.) but the domestiques on world tour teams only get like $40k. AFL players get lots more than that. my cus played SANFL and got more than that. he still gets over $600 bucks a game for a country club, and he doesn’t train. And i assume rugby is the same (and cricket really, what about the IPL?!). Swimming and triathalon yeh they get paid less, but thats because they aren’t as exciting and they don’t compete as much (swimmers only have a few meets a year (well probably more, but certainly not 100 race days a year)

  9. Swimmers in Australia also get substantial help from the government in order to (excuse the pun) stay afloat. I remember reading an article a while back on Stephanie Rice and I think she earnt $40k a year from the government. After endorsements/prize money, they don’t have to pay that back either. I guess we all have a shares in our swimmers, now, if I could only become interested in it…

  10. Swimmer in Australia get paid a “wage” by swimming australia, which is ostensibly a governement body. But most of this funding comes from private sponsors, such as telstra. But on a global level some are far worse of with a lot less public interest in swimming. Also Steph rice won what was it 3 gold medals at the olympics and is very “marketable” yet she wouldn’t earn a percentage of most cyclist who can win the equivilent of 3 gold medal.
    @ambrose- it is bizarre that these country football clubs have the money to do that, i would love to see where there funding is coming from. As for you comment of “because they aren’t as exciting” I would re-think this statement. It is too easy to dismiss something as unexciting. And if you are trying to imply that we should just let a free market with the economy being “viewer interest from excitiement” then there really is no point in discussing the matter as it will sort itself out.

    I am not saying it wouldnt be nice if the spoils of cycling got spread around a bit more. Just trying to put it into perspective that cycling is more healthy than a lot of sports.

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