UCI WorldTour leader Peter Sagan has issued a video apology on Facebook after receiving worldwide criticism for groping a podium girl at the end of the Tour of Flanders.
The Cannondale rider, who finished second behind Fabian Cancellara of RadioShack-Leopard, did issue an apology of sorts on Twitter but that did nothing to stem the criticism, which has now entered the mainstream.
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
The 23 year old's actions have been the subject of numerous editorials, crossing over into the mainstream and catching the attention of women's publications like Cosmopolitan and Jezebel.
In the video Sagan expresses full remorse for his actions, apologising to the podium girl, Maya Leye, with a promise to "act more respectfully in the future".
Update 1:00pm: Bob Burbank, Global General Manager for Cannondale also issued a response to the incident, reinforcing the behaviors expected of the athletes who represent the brand.
"There have been a lot of conversations around Peter Sagan today. I can tell you as the General Manager of the brand that I don’t condone or tolerate this behavior for any reason with any athletes whether they are on or off the bike, said Burbank. "I also believe that professional athletes are an extension of the brands they represent and affect people’s impression of the industry.
"Our brand is built on fun, passion and excitement for cycling but it also must include respect for everyone involved in the sport. It’s my expectation that all of our athletes behave accordingly. Peter understands the impact of and accepts full responsibility for his actions."
Update 9:00pm: "I quickly realized what was happening, but I preferred to remain professional. Sagan and I have not talked after the incident, but I glanced over to let him know that what he did was wrong," Maja Leye is reported as saying in the Belgian media. She then took to Twitter to accept Sagan's apology.