June 28, 2017 / 7:40 PM / a year ago

Cycling: Tour demand Bakelants apology for derogatory remark

(This article contains quotes of a sexual nature that some readers may find offensive)

AG2R La Mondiale rider Jan Bakelants of Belgium reacts after the 178.5-km (110.9 miles) 14th stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Rodez to Mende, France, July 18, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

By Julien Pretot

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Tour de France organizers will contact Jan Bakelants’s AG2R-La Mondiale team to ask him to apologize after the rider made derogatory comments to a Belgian newspaper about the women who hand out prizes during the race.

Bakelants, a Tour de France stage winner in 2013, was quoted as saying by Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws that he would bring with him a “pack of condoms, because you never know where those podium chicks have been hanging out”.

“We will contact his team so that he makes an apology,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme told Reuters on Wednesday.

Bakelants did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Contacted by Reuters, AG2R-La Mondiale said: “We have seen this interview and the answers of Jan Bakelants, who certainly wanted to be humorous, but in the present case it was very bad taste. We apologize to the organizers and to those who may have been offended by this remark.”

Tour hostesses, or “hotesses du Tour” in French, 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 between the women and riders is forbidden.

At the 2013 Tour of Flanders, now world champion Peter Sagan apologized after grabbing a women’s bottom on the podium.

Bakelants’s team mate Romain Bardet is one of the favorites for this year’s Tour de France, which runs from July 1-23.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis and Nick Mulvenney

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