• Jan Bakelants at the 2017 Tour de Suisse. (Getty)Source: Getty
The sun rises on another day in professional cycling and once again I'm left puzzled and not a little disgusted.
Jane Aubrey

Cycling Central
29 Jun 2017 - 11:10 AM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2017 - 11:41 AM

The countdown is on to one of the most open Tours de France in years, the spotlight on Dusseldorf, and unwanted distractions are coming at us thick and fast.

A day after Andre Cardoso’s adverse analytical finding for EPO, Jan Bakelants has allegedly made some woeful comments about podium hostesses in an interview with Belgian paper Het Laatste Nieuws.

The off colour language refer to pornography and podium girls but this is a family publication so I won’t be repeating them verbatim and will let you consult Google.

Cycling, society and women. A troubled trinity.

The ASO has quickly and rightly demanded an apology from the former Tour de France stage winner.

Responding to news agency Reuters, Bakelants’s team 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 apologise to the organisers and to those who may have been offended by this remark."

He wanted to be humourous? Pardon me… This is a case of déjà vu, again. And then there is the classic non-apology apology "...to those who may have been offended."

I’ve been here before. It would seem that as a woman, many out there don’t like it when I call out misogynistic behaviour or pass judgement on men delivering their own brand of humour in a sport that I have genuine love and affection for.

In considering writing this piece it crossed my mind as to whether I would yet again receive threats in trade for my opinion, but never mind, this issue is too important.

When world road champion Peter Sagan committed his podium pinch at the Tour of Flanders in 2013, his immediate reaction was to suggest it was “just a joke”.

Two years later, organisers of E3 Harelbeke attempted to make light of the incident in their promotional posters for the race, saying it was “fun and playful”.

AG2R-La Mondiale it would seem, have missed the point. Don’t try and make an excuse for your rider by saying he “wanted to be humourous”.

Should this year’s podium hostesses at the Tour de France feel safe in the midst of Bakelants following his unsettlingly predatory comments?

Of course, this is not just cycling’s problem. Society itself creates the views and values that Bakelants promulgates.

At a time like the Tour de France we should be shining a light on the very best that the sport can offer. Not sending cycling back to the dim and dark ages.

How to watch the 2018 Tour de France on SBS
The 2018 Tour de France is here and SBS will bring you the racing, personalities, food, chateaux and colour of the event across all broadcast platforms.