Wednesday, 30 April 2014

La Course, La Tour sealed with a kiss

For those unfamiliar with the traditions of professional cycling it retains a strange archaic ritual where the winner is attended to on the Podium by 'Podium Girls', normally two. The money shot being a picture of the victor waving his trophy (and or cuddly toy) while being kissed on either cheek by the girls. In terms is of symbolism it's all pretty single entendre. In launching La Course, a women's race on the final day of the Tour De France, the organisers, ASO have been eager to share the news that the winners with be greeted by 'Podium Boys.' Hurrah for equality. Hopefully the women will have more class than Peter Sagan, photographed last year taking a sneaky grope. But in these enlightened times surely this doesn't go far enough. Surely the victor should be able to select their gender of choice for that all important peck, or should they wish, one of each. Equal love and all that. Alternatively let's take the opportunity to consign this toe curling tradition to history and pay more attention to tackling the huge inequality within the sport.

ASO are also making a lot of noise about offering equal prize money for the men's and women's race. Ok, don't mean to be snarky but.... Yes, the prize money is equal to that of the man who wins the final stage of the TdF. It dodges the challenge that ASO as yet do not run a Women's TdF, because, well it's all too hard. The man who wins the TdF will earn vastly more. The pay, appearance fees and sponsorship enjoyed by even mid ranking male pro's dwarfs what the women get, even the very best. In terms status and rewards women's cycling is where tennis was before Billie Jean King. A big part of this is women's races, even  when they do exist, do not enjoy serious coverage. Rather than jokey patronising press releases about podium boys, those organising the big races, and the UCI who sanctions them need to move into the 21st Century.