Belgian rider says sorry for his sexist remarks

Jan Bakelants has admitted his comments on tour hostesses were inappropriate.
Jan Bakelants has admitted his comments on tour hostesses were inappropriate.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

DUSSELDORF • Jan Bakelants has apologised after making derogatory comments to a Belgian newspaper about the Tour de France's "podium girls" .

"My sincerest apologies to all those offended by my words in a so-called humouristic interview. My words have been inappropriate," the AG2R-La Mondiale cycling team rider said on Twitter.

When asked by Het Laatste Nieuws about going three weeks without sex at the Tour, which starts in Dusseldorf tomorrow, he reportedly said: "It's not too difficult with those porn films, and there are always those podium girls."

The Belgian added when asked what he would pack for his free time: "Definitely a packet of condoms. You never know where those podium girls are hanging out."

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His remarks caused a stir and on Wednesday the Tour's director Christian Prudhomme contacted the AG2R-La Mondiale team to ask him to apologise.

Bakelants did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but his team said: "We have seen this interview and the answers of Jan Bakelants, who wanted to be humorous, but in the present case it was very bad taste.

"We apologise to the organisers and to those who may have been offended by this remark."

Tour hostesses have long been a feature of major cycling races. Commonly students, they work long hours hosting sponsors before presenting flowers, prizes and the jerseys riders win for leading the race or a particular category of the race.

Two tour hostesses flank the winning rider on the podium while photographs are taken, often kissing him on the cheek, but other communication is forbidden.

At the 2013 Tour of Flanders, now world champion Peter Sagan apologised after grabbing a woman's bottom on the podium.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2017, with the headline 'Belgian rider says sorry for his sexist remarks'. Print Edition | Subscribe