And the winner isn’t. …

That's No. 2, a'ight.

That’s No. 2, a’ight. (I’d credit the shooter but I can’t nail down its source.)

I thought cycling fans worshiped the hard men at the spring classics until I endured the online wailing, the virtual gnashing of teeth and the rending of digital garments that accompanied Peter Sagan’s gruesomely juvenile fondling of a podium girl at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Heavens to Merckx. A 23-year-old jock does something knuckleheaded in front of the cameras and from the caterwauling you’d think HBO had canceled “Game of Thrones.”

Some perspective, if you please. Ours is a sport focused on men who compete wearing garments that would shame a Lexington Avenue shemale for the honor of getting trophies that look like Home Depot garden-center remainders and air kisses from killer hotties who are holding their breath until they can rub up against something that smells better, like the homeless guy talking to himself on the train, or maybe a paycheck.

Then the guys in the plastic pants work up a big one and ejaculate a frothy fluid all over anyone within range.

I mean, as George Carlin once quipped, you don’t have to be Fellini to figure this one out.

Was Sagan out of line? Of course. Did you ever do anything stupid in public without the questionable excuse of being The Next Big Thing In Pro Cycling at an age when many a young fellow has just graduated college and is trying to decide which Mickey D’s can make best use of his B.A. in English? Seems likely. I know that if Twitter had been around when I was 23 I’d never have lived to see 24.

Hot links

Hot links from two prominent bicycle-racing websites.

It would have been swell if the podium girl in question had swung around and slapped the smirk off Sagan’s face and hissed, “Only the winner gets to touch me!” Or if Bernard Hinault had suddenly appeared out of nowhere and hurled him off the stage. Then we could all move on from our long international nightmare.

But this tempest on Twitter strikes me as a bit over the top.

How about a little outrage over the lack of opportunities for (and coverage of) women racers? Doesn’t anyone find it disturbing that slender models smooching smelly Belgians get more TV time than women pros? Has anyone on the fainting couch noticed that certain bicycle-racing websites derive some of their revenue from links that could more charitably be described as “questionable?”

Maybe it’s time cycling did without the podium ceremony, in which beautiful women are among the spoils claimed by victorious male gladiators. It seems anachronistic, a bit of theater that has outlived its usefulness, a dinosaur long overdue for its date with the tar pits — you know, like the UCI.

The biting of the medals, the spraying of the bubbly, the raising of the arms (at which the podium girls take a few paces back) — it all makes for lousy imagery, until some hormone-crazed showboat decides to play a little grab-ass.

And then what on the cobbles is a thing of beauty starts to look like your cousin’s wedding, with drunk Uncle Buster mistaking a bridesmaid for an hors d’oeuvre.

• Late update: Young Master Sagan apparently has been taken to the woodshed, from whence issues this video apology.

• Even later update: Good lord, the putz has apologized and they’re still at it on Twitter. These people need to get laid. Get jobs. Get stuffed. Jaysis.

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34 Responses to “And the winner isn’t. …”

  1. featuresports Says:

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  2. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Give ’em hell Patrick. Too bad the Badger wasn’t there to enforce proper protocol. Anywho, all this bullshit over Sagan, and not a single picture of Vos, who did it again. In a sprint finish no less. I think I might just watch women’s racing from now on. If I can find any coverage that is. We always enjoyed the woman’s race at La Vuelta de Bisbee better than the men’s, and we even watched Judith Arndt win in 2006 while following 50 yards behind in a neutral support vehicle (our pickup.)

  3. Stan Thomas Says:

    I took due regard of the date of the articles proclaiming righteous indignation…

    On the subject of podium girls, I recall that the Dutch hosts of a Giro stage wanted to use podium boys but were overruled by the Italians. Perhaps we should ask Nicole Cooke for her views?

  4. Boz Says:

    This is an outrage! Sagan MUST be tested for excess testosterone immediately! Hrumpf, hrumpf!!!

  5. khal spencer Says:

    Sagan did it. We boys all think it. Sometimes its best to exercise some control, i.e., try to pick her up after taking a shower….

  6. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Khal, you sooo bad! Guess he didn’t get the look but don’t touch lesson. In any case, when will folks figure out that twitter and facebook have two purposes, mine data on your ass, and try to sell you shit you don’t need. That and churn the gossip cauldron.

    • Khal Spencer Says:

      As O’G says, the podium girls schtick is a bit anachronistic. Unless we are going to change the rules to really let the winning gladiator haul the babe back to his cave, perhaps we should get rid of the symbolic version that we have now. That’s all this is, right?

      But perhaps some real-live hormonal rewards would liven things up a little in the big stage races. Rather than watching for three weeks as one team controls the peloton for some skinny guy who forgets how to shift his derailleurs and who no real babe would have anything to do with, what if we upped the ante. Would more of these Hard Men exercise a little bit of ambition in the pack? Imagine if blondie above really was part of the winner’s take….

      Ok, smack me down. I deserve it.

  7. Sara Bella Says:

    Balanced article and far far better than most who’ve bothered to offer an opinion on this. If they want to be pro-female most of them could start by covering the women’s races with the same amount of fervour and prominence as the the men’s. Because none of them do.

  8. khal spencer Says:

    You know Patrick, I checked a half a dozen places on the web to make sure this isn’t up there with the sunflower caper you guys pulled off on VeloNews some years ago on this date.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      ‘Tis a wise man indeed who fact-checks whatever he finds on this website. Especially on this particular day.

      • khal spencer Says:

        If this is an April Fools prank, its taken more organizational effort than running a stage race.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Should we trust a mad dog or not? Has he pulled many April fool’s nasties on us before? Is he demented, troubled, unstable, and diabolical? Does he make his dog dance for carrots? Does he ride road bikes in the mud? I’m checking this shit out.

  9. khal spencer Says:

    There is a certain irony to the links below Jane Aubrey’s op ed over at CyclingNews. Are women objectified? Well, duh.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/the-bottom-line-on-sagans-flanders-podium-pinch

    And bygosh, what ever happened to the Tour de France feminin? To say cycling is sexist is a little….understated?

  10. Evan Says:

    If men responded to another man’s violation of a woman with don’t do it it’s not result of your testosterone but your over entitled values stop it don’t do it again things Would change! Butt No!! All weekend are stupid idiotic remarks like this which make Things stay the same

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      You’re new here, Evan, so I’m gonna cut you some slack. And I’ll hold off on slapping your mama, too, though she apparently didn’t teach you anything about how to behave when in someone else’s house.

      You want to disagree, disagree, and make a case. But you don’t get to call me or anyone else here “stupid” or “idiotic.” This is your only warning.

      • James Says:

        Why not just sell poor Evan some punctuation marks and let him go on his merry way? I mean!!!! Really!!!!! 🙂

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        James, ordinarily I’m all too happy to share, but I have two columns to write this week and need all the punctuation I have in stock.

      • Steve O Says:

        Evan is right. I can’t believe you’re not using this website to end all cruelty, hunger, and scurvy. Instead of getting our chuckles, we could use this as a wiki-development page to work out the bugs on a static electricity recapture motor. But that what over entitled values get you. Hey … There’s your new mission. Change the name from Mad Dog Media to The Society for the Promotion of Under Entitled Values.

        Gotta go. My cilice is in the shop, getting sharpened, so I have to get through the day on mere self-flagellation.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I might have some spare sackcloth if you need it, Steve. Will look for it as soon as I finish my noon beating.

  11. Libby Says:

    Huff Post credits Bryn Lennon/Getty for the photo above and another http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2013/04/01/peter-sagan-photo-cyclist-pinch-podium-girl_n_2992732.html?utm_hp_ref=sports

  12. khal spencer Says:

    He looks like quite the duffer in that Facebook video.

    “…I wasn’t thinking…”

    What’s that old line about a man not having enough blood pressure to run both the brain and that other organ simultaneously?

  13. James Says:

    It seems that the umbrella girls at Moto GP races are more objectified than the podium girls at a bike race in Belgium.

  14. khal spencer Says:

    Per “Even later update”. I think Twitter and all that shit is a way to distract people from real life.

  15. Joe Says:

    OK boys, ‘fess up: Who has never actually wished to see that happen, just once? But Sagan still doesn’t come up to Yuri Metlushenko, who apparently thought the podium babe WAS the trophy. I was there for this one. Word is ol’ Yuri was in the doghouse for a while after this shot made its way back to the homeland … and the missus. http://nyvelocity.com/gallery/image/3656?page=5

    • khal spencer Says:

      Didn’t a well known pro racer end up marrying a podium girl?
      Melanie Simonneau, aka Melanie Hincapie.

  16. Larry T. Says:

    In the post race frenzy (not there, but at the bar we were in not too far from the finish) I missed the TV shot of Sagan’s antics, but when I heard about it later, I thought the same “well, isn’t it rather sexist to have the women up there in the first place?” as expressed here. Crass? Sure, but at least the “first loser” as so many like to call second place, wasn’t sulking, even pointing to Fabian more than once in a “you’re the man today!” gesture. Think about it now – though Spartacus won the race, the real publicity seems to be going to the second place guy (and his sponsors)…what’s that they say about publicity? I’ll get some bloggery up about what it was like to be there and ride some of the course later this week.

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