Sagan The Sexist Drags Cycling Back To The Dark Ages
Has Peter Sagan overstepped the mark with his behaviour on the podium after the Tour of Flanders bike race?
Previously the young Slovakian has celebrated winning races with gorilla impersonations or wheelies, but his reaction on the podium after finishing second to Fabian Cancellara risks bringing the whole sport of professional cycling into disrepute.
After six hours in the saddle competing in one of the toughest races on the cycling calendar, Sagan decided it would be a good idea to grope one of the podium girls.
It was demeaning and humiliating to his victim, and embarrassing to the rider himself.Â After all, heâ€™s 22, not 12.
This isnâ€™t about professional sportsmen as role models â€“ God knows anyone who follows professional football will have given up on that a long time ago â€“ itâ€™s about the far wider issue of women in sport.
Just when the exploits of Laura Trott and Team GBâ€™s other female Olympic track stars gave some credibility to womenâ€™s cycling, Sagan actions have highlighted the dark days, when women at bike races were purely for decoration.
Podium girls are undoubtedly a leftover from less enlightened times, but they exist across the whole sporting spectrum, from Formula One to figure skating.Â Yes, itâ€™s a flaky tradition, a cultural â€śhouse of cardsâ€ť just waiting to be swept away in a tsunami of universal disapproval, but until then it remains part and parcel â€“ love it or hate it â€“ of our favourite sport.
But what is unique â€“ and ultimately shaming – is that even in a world of self-obsessed millionaire F1 drivers and footballers, itâ€™s a professional cyclist who has exposed the whole charade with his crass, juvenile and deeply insulting actions.
Maybe it signals the end of podium girls?Â Â If so, then thatâ€™s probably a good thing.
After all, would you want to carry out your prize-giving duties if there was a risk of being assaulted by some sweaty, stupid Slovakian?
And while Sagan the Sexist was single-handedly dragging our sport back to the dark ages, just across the Channel on the banks of the River Thames, an amateur athlete was reminding us of how dignity and sport need not be incompatible.
After winning the Boat Race, the Oxford captainâ€™s priority was to publicly thank his sister for helping him get through a difficult year.