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Young riders to replace podium hostesses at Tour Down Under

South Australia's sports minister says government wants to inspire young women...

Next month’s Tour Down Under will see stage winners and jersey holders greeted by junior cyclists instead of the podium hostesses the race has employed until now following a decision by the South Australian Government.

State administrators have already withdrawn funding for ‘grid girls’ at the Clipsal 500 motor racing event in Adelaide in an initiative championed by sports minister Leon Bignell, reports The New Daily.

When thar decision was made, he said: “The Government’s paying for grid girls at the same time we’re putting money into mental health areas to help young women who have body image problems,” he said.

“What we actually want to do is inspire girls and young women who come to the motor racing to be car drivers or to be mechanics or to be engineers.”

But Ute Peterson, director of the Tanya Powell Model Agency, said the decision to end funding for podium hostesses at the Tour Down Under was a mistake, and that the models involved “really enjoyed doing it.”

She continued: “I think from a spectator perspective, it adds a little bit more glamour to an event and personally, I find it sad that it’s no longer involved.”

Referring also to the decision not to use grid girls at the motor race, she added: “It is political correctness gone mad? I don’t know, but I probably feel that it needs to be put to a vote by the spectators.”

Joe Szakacs of SA Unions pointed out: “There’s certainly no lack of opportunity for women to participate in modelling and fashion,” he said.

“What I think this does is make a very clear statement that there is a much more constructive, productive and influential role that women can and should play in delivering these events.”

While some see the presence of podium hostesses at races as one of cycling’s traditions, others believe the practice objectifies women and has no place in sport in the 21st Century.

The issue hit the headlines in 2013 when Peter Sagan pinched the bottom of podium hostess Maja Leye – not a model, but a full-time employee of the race organisers – after finishing second to Fabian Cancellara at the Tour of Flanders.

> Maja Leye says she struggled to keep calm after Peter Sagan pinched her bottom

Last year, Gent-Wevelgem unveiled ‘Podium Misters’ for its women’s race – although that decision was criticised by some who said that simply trying to swap over the genders did not address the fundamental issue.

> Gent-Wevelgem unveils ‘Podium Misters'

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Stumps | 7 years ago
1 like

I dont honestly care if they are there or not as i generally dont watch the presentations just the actual race.

However they do appear because its a job of choice so who are we to say you cant be a model and if so where does it end, no adverts which show pretty woman and  / or handsome men. No tv shows which have pretty presenters - ie Sky Sports, the list is endless.


mike the bike | 7 years ago
1 like


Girls, and boys too, can prance around the podium, or not, I'm too old to care much either way.  But jumping on a conveniently passing bandwagon and denouncing the whole thing as sexist is just too easy.  Despite all the theorising and agonising we are subject to around 150,000 years of human evolution and are cleverly designed to fancy one another.

It probably hurts the sensitivities of the self-styled opinion formers but it's unshakeably true.

Awavey | 7 years ago




Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago

I don't think they earn a great deal anyway, they didn't when I was into the motorsport gig. As usual the agency gets a decent cut and the girls get some food (if they dare eat), pocket money and the hope that the exposure leads them to better things. 

Half the time at national level, half of 'dolly birds' will probably be riders girlfriends and their friends as the budget doesn't stretch to eye candy. 

Kind of not really bothered about the situation either way, nobody is forcing women to do this but also I couldn't care less about this at sporting events as I went to it to watch the sport not look at women, so I wouldn't miss them. 


OnTheRopes | 7 years ago

I wonder if the (presumably) well paid podium girls mind at all at losing a job? I bet the juniors are cheaper too

tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
1 like

Was wondering how this thread would turn out. seemed to be full of rapey throwbacks when there was a podium girls thread before:

(Yes the irony isn't lost on me that I have a Sagan avatar)


Anyway, nice to see things change and people get behind it laugh


Lots of room for women on podiums. Just have to use their bikes, not boobs, to get there. 



barongreenback | 7 years ago
1 like

A great initiative and long overdue. We need to be showing girls coming into the sport (and young people generally) that their value is as an athlete, not as an accessory to the men on the podium. 

Bob F | 7 years ago
1 like

Think the South Oz Government could lighten up on life a little. If girls want to be 'grid girls', and boys want to be 'grid boys', why not? I can't see how this prevents productivity for women at such events, nor stymies any individual desire to become drivers/riders or mechanics. 

Surely the whole question of mental health in relation to low body image esteem will remain until we are all single-source cloned. - Sprint finishes will be exciting though.

And no, I'm not condoning Peter Sagan's posterior pinching: That's a separate issue: Ms Leye could have been forgiven for giving him a quick back-hander and we could all get on with our lives. But now I'm inciting violence.


cdamian | 7 years ago
1 like

Obviously needed a photo, in case we don't know what they look like.

No photo of junior riders though.

aslongasicycle | 7 years ago


beezus fufoon | 7 years ago

It's political correctness gone mad!

let's hope those junior cyclists can pull off the mini dress and high heels look

ianrobo | 7 years ago

at least one organisation is moving into the modern times, thats rare now.

EddyBerckx | 7 years ago

Respect!! Good on them, hope it catches on 

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