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No more 'podium girls' for Tour de France

Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) is assisted with his yellow jersey after taking the race lead after stage 19 of the 2019 Tour de France in Tignes. In 2020, only one female hostess and one male host will take part in the Tour’s podium protocol
Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) is assisted with his yellow jersey after taking the race lead after stage 19 of the 2019 Tour de France in Tignes. In 2020, only one female hostess and one male host will take part in the Tour’s podium protocol (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Tour de France will no longer use two 'podium girls' to assist – and kiss – stage winners and jersey winners after each stage of the race, instead using just one female and one male host to participate in the podium protocols, while the number of other guests on stage will also be reduced.

"We've been used to having the riders on the podium assisted by two hostesses," said Tour director Christian Prudhomme on Wednesday, according to Europe 1. "Now, things are going to be different, using only one élu [local dignitary] and one jersey partner, as well as one hostess and one host, for the first time."

For some years, the practice of two women presenting flowers and sponsors' soft toys to the riders at races like the Tour de France, and then both women simultaneously kissing the riders on both cheeks, has been denounced as sexist and old-fashioned, and Europe 1 reported that a petition in 2019 raised 38,000 signatures agreeing that women "are not objects or rewards". The practice of using 'grid girls' in Formula 1 motor racing was also stopped in 2018, the French radio station pointed out.

It would appear that Tour organisers ASO have listened to what had become the opinion of many, and will instead use one man and one woman to assist the riders with the podium protocol for the stage winners and the classification-jersey holders, while the numbers of local dignitaries and sponsor representatives will also be reduced from five each to just one élu and one partner, Prudhomme said, which also serves to reduce the number of people on the podium while there is a continued coronavirus risk.

"Yes, it's new, but we've already been doing it this way at some of our other races, like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, for 20 years," Prudhomme said, referring to the Belgian Monument, which is also organised by ASO.

Another ASO event, the one-day Flèche Wallonne, used both one male host and one female hostess on the podium at the 2018 edition of the event, and it appeared then that the change at the Tour would, eventually, finally, be inevitable.