Peter Sagan may have finished second in the Tour of Flanders in Belgium on Sunday, but he definitely took first when it came to "jokes" that backfired in a big way.
Sagan, a 23-year-old cyclist from Belgium, is attracting plenty of criticism from the cycling world and beyond after he pinched the backside of a podium girl during the medal ceremony. The mischievous grin on Sagan's face suggests he was hamming it up for the cameras that were trained on him, but he quickly learned the error of his ways once the photo made its way around the Internet.
"Shame that Peter Sagan has so much class on a bike and so very little off of it," fellow rider Michael Hutchinson later tweeted.
The photograph has actually opened up a much-needed debate about the presence of the smooch-happy podium girls and the ingrained objectification of women in the world of cycling. Is the winner taking home a cycling title or an armful of women? It sends the wrong message, especially for young women actually looking to hop on a cycle instead of a cyclist.
More than a few people have pointed out that the woman in question was planting a wet one on the cheek of winner Fabian Cancellara, as if that meant she were somehow asking for it. Of course she wasn't, but the mixed messages the "tradition" sends is proof enough that it's time to come up with a better way to celebrate a win.
Sagan later apologized for his action:
Was not my intention todisrespect women today on the podium. Just a joke, sorry if someone was disturbed about it.
— Peter Sagan (@petosagan) March 31, 2013
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