Podium girls and the Tour de WTF?

podium girl
The New York Times ran an article about the taxing job of “hostess” at the much loved Tour de France. Apparently young women, mostly from Europe, work 12+ hour days, serving drinks and snacks, sharing crowded living quarters, and are continuously forced to smile, even when tired. (Sounds like the Tour directors and the truck drivers who pass through my neighborhood have something in common.)

So I get that many beauty pageants in the U.S. are associated with scholarships, and therefore, can be seen as a gateway, albeit a objectifying one, to educational opportunities. But this? Apparently the big winner gets…drum roll please…”The plum assignment is to award the jerseys to the top riders in Paris, where the stage is set on the Champs-Élysées. Pictures from that ceremony are seen worldwide.”

And? That’s it?

Sorry, but you’d have to give me way more incentive than that to put up with 12+ hour days and being told to smile even when I’m exhausted and in need of some alone time. The Tour director Christian Prudhomme freely admits that “the podium girls are accessories to the athletes.” The insult doesn’t stop there, however. The Times reports:

Prudhomme chose a woman, Claire Pedrono, a cycling champion of the Brittany region in France, for a prestigious job at this Tour: holding up the race blackboard that tells the cyclists time information, such as how far they are ahead of the pack behind them. She rides the course on the back of a motorcycle.

“I felt like she deserved that honor because of her accomplishments as a cyclist,” Prudhomme said. “But I have to be honest with you, it also doesn’t hurt that she has a nice smile.”

And that’s how Claire Pedrono, one of the best cyclists in the world, became Vanna White.

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