Photo from last year’s tour, from Amgen Tour of California.

Spectators of the first stage of the Amgen Tour of California, a circuit race taking place in Long Beach on Sunday, should not expect to see any scantily-clad models offering kisses and prizes to winning cyclists.

President of the Amgen Tour of California Kristin Klein announced today during a press conference with tour riders that the premier stage race will discontinue having hostesses, commonly known as “podium girls”, present awards to stage winners during the podium ceremonies that follow.

“AEG, the company that owns and operates the Amgen Tour of California, we always want to do the right thing,” Klein told the Post. “As you probably heard today we made the decision to actually have equal prize money for the women and the men, as well.”

The decision follows La Vuelta a Espana’s decision in 2017 to be the first Grand Tour to stop using hostesses, followed by the Tour de France’s announcement of plans to do away with the controversial tradition, The Times reported in early March.

“I think that there has been an increase in overall support for women’s cycling all over the world, just in terms of adding additional races, so I think we have been at the forefront of that,” Klein added. “I feel like it’s been a topic of conversation for years now and this was just the year that we made the decision that there’s not a necessity for them anymore.”

Amgen Tour of California Announces World-Class Teams Confirmed for 2018 Edition

While Klein wouldn’t give her opinion on whether the tradition is steeped in sexism, plenty of others have. What has long been a conversation within the cycling community surrounding podium girls and what they represent seems to be producing more than just opinions, and especially in the last year, has started to make waves as actionable items.

“Yes, we started off as a men’s race, but it was very important to us at AEG to make sure that we were supporting the women’s as well,” said Klein. “We’ve been supporting women’s racing since 2008. I feel like[…] we’re always at the front end of trying to do the right thing and make these decisions, and hopefully everyone will continue to follow and we’ll continue to be a leader.”

The Amgen Tour of California will continue to implement their stage management team and partners to ensure the podium celebrations run smoothly, Klein said.

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].

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