Cycling's governing body has decided to keep the dreams of women all over the world alive this International Womens' Day: they've decided to keep cyling's age old tradition of the 'Podium Girl'!
The 'Podium Girl' is traditionally one of two local young women whose important role is to help the race winner into his prize jersey, and to look like Angelina Jolie. The jersey zips up at the back for no other reason than to require the assistance of young women to put it on. They must then give the winner his very large bunch of flowers and a local delicacy, such as a wheel of cheese that he's not allowed eat lest he put on weight. Finally, crucially, they get to stand either side of our hero and kiss his sweaty, dirty cheeks as he beams at the adoring crowd.
It's a traditional scene that's been replicated many thousands of times over the decades. But recently the hopes of literally dozens of women across the globe who qualify for the role hung in the balance as the UCI contemplated banning the tradition.
The UCI it was said was reconsidering its medal award ceremonies to ensure the protocol is "respectful of all participants". Of course anyone who's ever seen a podium presentation knows it's the almost always the vertically challenged cyclist who is trying to maintain self-respect as he stands on a box to get his kisses.
Thankfully sense has prevailed and those women can continue to freely harbour their ambitions to kiss the sweaty, dirt laden cheek of a man half their height. As the Italian UCI contingent commented: "In this specific moment it is more of a temporary trend to remove podium girls from sport events. 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."
Quite right. But what about the poor cyclists?
In the wake of recent moves by darts and Formula One to scrap their ‘walk-on’ girls – and reports that the Tour de France is considering following suit – UCI president David Lappartient said the issue had been discussed in Aigle but it had been resolved that there was no need to scrap podium hostesses altogether.