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Being complete

A few years ago Peter Sagan got into the new for pinching the bottom of a podium girl. Yes, it was an outrageous act and one that he rightly apologised for. However, the worst part of it is that we as a cycling culture still don't seem to have grasped the main issue - that he felt that he could do it and make a joke of it. 

image courtesy of Huffington Post

Podium girls are a hark back to a century when woman fought for the vote, fought for equal rights in the workplace, fought for equal pay etc etc. It's quite ironic that we still live in a society where the woman is expected to take the name of her husband when she marries. So what then does this have to do with cycling you may well ask. It's easy really - we still have podium girls, and the ladies don't have a world tour to match the men; and yet for the life of me I can't understand why. 

image courtesy of cyclingtips.com

I suppose I take a different perspective to a lot of people. I have 3 sisters, I had 2 maternal aunts, 2 great aunts, and lots of female cousins, with a small splattering of men within the family, including my brother. But my sisters looked after me as a young and quiet boy, and I went on to marry a woman who had...yes, 2 sisters! In effect, I don't necessarily see a 'hot chick' in lycra, I simply see a cyclist who's no different from my sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins. I know, I'd better stop now, due to the impression given in some places around the world! 

 Headlines from Daily Mail 2016

Seriously though, we seem to have a sport where woman still haven't quite made it onto the same page. Where Shane Sutton is allowed for many years to carry on as ... Shane Sutton, and where Peter Sagan can pinch a podium girls butt and think it's funny. Sorry Peter, we love you here at Pedalnorth, but that was just wrong. 

If a guy wears lycra and wears it well, his mates think that he's a dude. On a mountain bike, he can wear a cool tee shirt and some colourful baggies and he's a real dude now. However, if women try to be stylish in lycra, then there's usually a chorus of:

  • Phooar, have you seen that; or

  • Look at her trying to be sexy; or

  • Tart!

Sometimes the language is even stronger and even more offensive; and I'm sorry guys - and the odd woman - it is extremely offensive.

Everybody deserves to be a whole person; to explore and to portray the person that they truly are and to be comfortable in their skin and in the clothes that cover them. They deserve the right to be stylish, glamorous and indeed, even 'sexy' if they choose to be. Ultimately they all deserve to be a complete person, feeling comfortable with all sides of their personality without suffering sexist remarks or actions - to fit their own jigsaw pieces together in whatever image they choose. Believe it or not women can cycle. I know, it's hard to believe that in less than 100 years since they got the vote in Great Britain and in the United States of America, they've not only learnt to ride a bike, but also become world champions - that was irony people. Stay with me on this one. 

Quite remarkable then that we seem to think that their proper place on the podium is lining up to frame the men. 

Next time then that you feel the urge to make comment regarding women in cycling attire, think only this: it's not their fault that they fit it better that middle aged men with paunches. It's also not an issue for them to want to feel good about themselves; and more importantly, let's have more world tour podiums in big stage races for them to stand on as the main attraction, not just as some glamorous side show.