Cyclist Peter Sagan has issued an apology after he was caught pinching a flower girl’s bottom while posing on the podium at Belgium’s Tour of Flanders cycle race.
Typically at such events, the winner is joined by two women on the podium, who both move in to kiss his face at the same time for a photo op. The runner-up — in this case Sagan — and third-place finisher usually stand and watch.
However, rather than wait patiently for this faintly silly process to run its course, a grinning Sagan stuck out his left hand and pinched the bottom of podium girl Maja Leye.
The photo of Sagan’s bum-pinch quickly did the rounds on Twitter (thanks in no small part to the event organizerstweeting the picture with the schoolboyish caption “Naughty Sagan…”) and the outrage quickly poured in. Discussing the incident on Jezebel, Laura Beck wrote:
“Even if a woman’s job is to wear a short dress and hand out shiny awards to men, it doesn’t mean anyone has a right to anything else from her. Sagan crossed the line, a line that should be VERY clear, and his ass should be punished. In a world that wasn’t the sexist worst, this s*** would be handled with a team suspension and extensive training for Sagan on how to be a human being. Instead he’ll probably be high-fived by a bunch of his pals for violating a woman, and th-th-that’s all, folks.”
Sagan produced a rather half-assed, conditional apology on Twitter to begin with (“Was not my intention to disrespect women today on the podium. Just a joke, sorry if someone was disturbed about it”), but has now released a more sincere video apology (embedded below) directed to Maya, women, and cycling fans in general.
In the video, Sagan — who looks like he has the weight of the Twittersphere on his young shoulders — says:
“I am so sorry and I hope that Maja and anyone else I have offended knows how sorry I am. I promise to act more respectfully in the future.”
Maya accepted Sagan’s apology on her own Twitter feed, writing: