Peter Sagan Issues Video Apology for Podium Transgression
Image c. Getty Images

It was the pinch felt round the world. In clearly a lapse in judgment, Peter Sagan overshadowed almost all of the Tour of Flanders, with a single pinch of the Podium Girl’s behind as Cancellara celebrated his win. Immediately after the photo was published, social media lit up – mostly in outrage and disappointment over the poor behavior displayed on the second step of the podium by Sagan. To address the criticism, and likely try to win back some of his fans, Sagan has issued a video apology stating that he is sorry for his actions. See the video, next.

Peter Sagan: Dear Maya [sic], women and fans, I know I have no excuse. here again my sincere apology…

What do you think? Should he be forgiven? Do podium girls still have a place in cycling? Let us know in the comments.


  1. He’ll learn from his mistake, continue to win bike races, do his funky and entertaining victory poses and people will forget all about this.

  2. yes David, there is nothing wrong in girls with shorts or tiny skirts and high heels, its absolutely normal and i’m sure all of them know cycling inside and out
    it’s not an right attitude, it was at least unthinked of, but now let him be and train and win races, or at least do some manuals on the climbs,

  3. Theres no way ‘forgiveness’ enters this picture. We should recognize this incident as evidence that the sport is misogynistic. Peter Sagan is 23. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t know better, it means he’s impressionable, and all he does with his time is ride bikes professionally, so its safe to call that atmosphere his number one influence. Who is there to forgive? And what good would that possibly do? No, it should be made clear that its disgusting to grab someone’s butt when they haven’t made it absolutely clear that the grabbing is welcome. Anyone arguing to the contrary is justifying sexual harassment and should picture any women they care about in the disempowered position of the ‘podium girl’ who name no one even knows.

  4. Lapse in judgement perhaps, yet comical. If Peter still has the urge/impulse to squeeze another behind, i would like to offer mine up. Ladies he is totally delicious it’s all forgivable.

  5. People are pathetic! I say good for him taking advantage of the opportunity. Too much politically correct crap!!! As the Eagles song says….GET OVER IT…..

  6. I think he’ll be forgiven, in time – it’s not good behavior, but he apologized as he should- first and foremost to her. He’s young, he was probably amped up on the podium, got a little cocky. I’m sure worse has happened.

    And yes, if the NBA gets laker girls, then cycling should get podium girls. I liken them to miss america contestants..the whole thing is kind of pointless, but everyone seems to enjoy it and it’s a career start for some.

  7. Sagan is genetically a muthafugn P I M P, I don’t think that’s something you can technically apologize for ..

  8. Glad Peter was reading from the cue card on his 3 sentence apology. He may have not been able to actually communicate. Good thing you can ride the piss out of a bike, Peter. Don’t worry, keep riding and you won’t have to actually have any social ability to communicate =)

  9. Cancellara’s chamois outclasses Sagan,. He just had to have the attention that was supposed to be reserved for the guy who just crushed him one on one.

  10. Neanderthals, no matter what a girl is wearing, you don’t have license to touch them without their consent. Good on Sagan for apologizing. That apology at least show’s a level of maturity and respect that a few idiots that have commented here will never have.

  11. Hey how about this for a crazy idea……..2 podiums, one for men and one for women……side by side…..with a jointly held presentation and equal TV footage… couldn’t happen…creating a context for mutual respect is way too progressive

  12. So with have a bimbo who is kissing the winner (I bet she did not ask for a formal permission to touch him), and you can’t even pinch her butt?

    Wussificated society.

  13. A young man high on his accomplishments, stoked to be living his dreams, high on caffeine, and god knows what else makes a mistake. He is young and at the moment high on life. A fit women leans over and bam a little mistake. An apology to the women that wanted to be objectified is a must. I am WAY over it! AH to be as young as her and and young as him…

  14. It’s only wrong if the woman didn’t think it was funny and the apology should then go to her, not the public…geez.
    I’m more upset that he just had to do something to take away from Cancellara’s victory…little brat. You know he was laughing after that apology that he was forced to do. Maybe his team captain and sponsors should apologize for making him apologizes for something we all know he’s not sorry for. Go men!

  15. He only did what every second and third place finisher in any sport has wanted to do since the beginning of organized competition.

  16. we should have the Chippendales dudes present Marrianne Vos’ trophy topless. 6’5″ solid 8 packs of abs, copper skin tone, cut and define, and all that jazz….

  17. what about lesbian cyclist/ gay cyclist? i think hermafroditas for everyone and problem solved. hope uci is reading this. or shemales for the podium could work too. what do u think?

  18. Guy made a bet with his buddies that he would not grab the podium gals posterior…he won.

    While I get the upset…fact is boys will be boys sometimes; and I can see a few of my buddies in a similar time and place doing the same thing. Not sure any real harm was done, nor do I know that this act was representative of or boy Sagan. I must admit, he does seem like perhaps he might have just a touch of (as a friend put it) “Euro Redneck” in him. Good times.

  19. @mjs1231

    The “gays”, who in general are more promiscuous and far less sexually repressed than most straight folks, are out to get Sagan, eh?

    You are quite the thinker.

  20. Funny that the majority of comments are by guys. Unwanted touching from anyone is uncalled for, guy or girl. Just because a woman works as a podium girl, doesn’t mean she deserves to get groped by some guy with a probably tiny steroid penis.

    That’s like saying if a girl wears a revealing outfit, she deserves to get raped. Way to make the gap between when and women and the sport of cycling grow even farther apart. How are women supposed to be taken seriously if guys just view them as their play things?

    That woman could be an amazing athlete herself, but you would never know because some “famous” dick head bike racer grabbed her ass.

  21. Yeah, he did something wrong, but people complaining about how misogynistic the sport is need to relax. Your feminist efforts are out of place, all y’all. He apologized. Meanwhile, 75% of you probably voted for Obama, and the rest of you voted for Romney, and both of them are all about killing people in foreign countries. Save your rage for something meaningful.

  22. Nice red herrings there, Dan.

    Meanwhile the podium girl tweeted this: “What happened on Sunday was wrong. I hope this never happens again. But I’m sure it won’t…excuses accepted @petosagan”. Apparently she didn’t asked to be touched and despite what the neanderthal throwbacks here think, she thought it was wrong. That attitudes here what build the foundation for a culture in which sexual imposition, assault, and rape are okay.

  23. He made a mistake. He recognized it. It was dumb. But so is the wacky tradition of podium girls in our sport. Slick Rick, give your holier than though a rest. It was a dumb, spur of the moment action but frankly, given the trophy chick thing at the end of each race, which is just damned silly and could be argued in itself as misogynistic, Sagan’s action is just in line with the whole silly thing.

  24. Sagan is the biggest bada$$ in cycling right now. I hope he continues his reign of awesomeness and keeps on winning/making scenes on the podium. He has been my hero since day one. Not saying everyone should be like him, but we need someone with his style in this sport.

  25. i’m really quite sure i’ve performed equally stupid acts at that age….not just once mind you. All of you pointing fingers are equally guilty of doing stupid shit. Cheers

  26. That girl is smooching a complete stranger in front of a large audience. That is what is wrong.

    Sagan did nothing wrong.

  27. This comment thread is EXACTLY why a dumb mistake like this needs to be called out. Sagan is dumb and macho and he made a poor decision, he should be forgiven.

    However; what the mistake represents is the attitude that women are “asking for it” if they choose a given profession, or dress a certain way, or are promiscuous with other men. NONE OF THIS MATTERS. If a woman does not ask for it, she is not “asking for it”. People should generally be respective of each other’s space and this goes double-ly (or triple-ly or quadruple-ly) for advances of a sexual manner.

    His acting this way has reinforced the rest of y’all’s completely outdated, ridiculously dumb ideas that sexually harassing someone is ok.

    Until today, I had no idea that the majority of Bikerumor’s readership hails from Stuebenville.

  28. I’m sorry, but this is insane. She was willing to be a podium girl but offended that he grabbed her behind. In what framework or logic does this make sense. One could argue that the whole podium girl thing is misogyny and problem of gender roles but damn. And talking about slippery slope from this to rape. People, get a grip. She is obviously good looking, he got cheeky, she didn’t like it, he apologized, end of story.

    Now lets go back to regular daily lives and plot how to subjugate women. /sarcasm off

  29. Totally agree with Keith @ 6.08.
    This situation was blown waaaay out of proportion . Sagan is young, he’s got an expansive ( would not dare to call it “flamboyant ” yet, in a Cipolini-esc way ) personality and he’s a great cycling talent.
    Suure, his gesture was not ok, not arguing with that.
    But i’m also sure that the blondie didn’t actually suffer any kind of psychological trauma either. Sagan put his hand, the masses limit themselves to eye-groping. What’s the difference ? If women want total equality then why do hostesses keep being employed for auto shows, sport events or even yogurt sampling in supermarktets ?

    It would have been disturbing if, per say, Fabian would have done that ( whilst being more mature, married and all that ) .
    Otherwise, let the guy have his lesson, as in letting him now that he should be more restrained while in the spot light. Hell, i might even agree if a sponsor would speak his mind within the team’s meetings.

    But don’t make it a butthurt feminist drama. That’s just annoying.

  30. Wow. There are actually idiots that think that because a lady is a podium girl or that because she’s dressed a certain way they’re allowed to touch and squeeze as they see fit. Sagan saw the error in his actions, but the idiots here don’t see anything. I bet they’d see things differently if it was a man grabbing their asses or if it was their daughter. This same idiots just don’t get that they don’t have the right to touch as they please.

  31. OK, reverse the situation. A man decides to go out clubbing and dresses up and is looking good. The man would be totally OK with being randomly groped by another man or by a 400 pound Sasquatch of a woman who happened to be standing close by? After all, the man in question dressed up in nice clothes and took pains to gook good, so he OBVIOUSLY deserves it if anyone he sees decides to grope him at will right? I mean, he was asking for it, right? He should just laugh it off and “get over it”? Unwanted touching is always wrong, all of the time.

  32. Sagan’s a twerp, but few people seem to have commented on the whole ‘podium girl’ issue. And the best comment I’ve seen on that is that we’ve seen far more about this incident than about Marianne Vos winning the women’s race.
    Why do we still have podium girls at all? Whether you think it’s sexist or not, it just looks dated and dumb. Let’s have a real range of people presenting the awards on the podium.

  33. John Sparks- Absolutely! It would be great to have the people handing out the medals/trophys be somehow attached to the sport. On a side note, I don’t think Peter Sagan would have felt compelled to grope Eddy Merckx if he was near the podium. Sagan would end up with a broken jaw if he even attempted it… Hell, If Marianne Vos had handed out the award I bet Sagan would have kept his hands to himself, she’s pretty tough.

    INOX EPS- I hope you are able to learn that your way of thinking is outmoded and damaging before you negatively affect someone else’s life by your actions.

  34. What are the podium girls there for? I mean, like, what’s the message they send?

    Probably the hubbub is because Sagan didn’t earn the sandwich deal the winner gets.

  35. I suppose I have to forgive his impulsive behavior, reacting as he did to a primal stimulus. After all, if he had accosted my daughter like that, I’d react impulsively, too–and he wouldn’t be smiling afterward.

  36. so, everyone here cool with all the butt-patting that happens in alot of team sports? open palm rule then?
    this is just an immature move by a kid is all. he just doesn’t have game. on the other hand the uci should thank sagan for detracting from their governing practices.

  37. Sagan need to grow up and rather quick.
    Podium girls should be a thing of the past, i find it disrespectful for woman even more then his foolish action

  38. I think it is telling kids that it is normal to be attracted and attentive to female butts as butts are the thing that we all like all the time. Football players grab each others butts all the time and I don’t see anyone complaining and so thisa was done in jest so by mer it is a good thing that guys can respectfully pinch a butt that they like in a delicate and respectfull manner. Mayube the world would be a better place if me and women got along better, NO?

  39. Unfortunately for Sagan he did his “pinch” for the entire world to see while at work. He is extremely lucky he is a professional athlete of his caliber, most of us would not be so lucky to get off with a video apology (I don’t know about Europe, but in the US he would be bracing for a lawsuit).

    As for the people who think it is acceptable or funny I would encourage you to try a similar stunt at your place of employment to a member of the opposite sex for public display. I would be impressed if you were employed at the end of the day.

    Cyclist are paid by sponsorships from external companies looking to promote their products; thus, associations to NBA players are not legitimate they are paid by businesses that create their income through ticket sales, vending sales and television rights. Cycling teams don’t share in the money made from television rights. The business model is totally different . A closer model would be Tiger Woods, and you can see how long him to recover from his missteps.

    The brands Sagan represents cannot and will not condone this and they will force him to apologize again and again until they feel the incident is forgotten and their brand has been repaired. I have no inside information but I am sure there are a lot of meetings getting scheduled at Cannondale this week on how to deal with this incident. The women rider segment is growing and the last thing any brand wants is to be identified as the misogynist bike.

    As for Sagan, he is very lucky he is young and he can pass this off as being immature. He has time to change his image because someday he will not be the fastest thing on two wheels. When your job is representing major corporations showing public disrespect for women you tends to shorten a career.

  40. SatisFACTORYrider,

    I understand your point and I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I think there is a difference between butt patting someone on your team and groping a stranger of the opposite sex, open palm or not.

    At 23 (or however old Sagan is), he is a man and is responsible for his actions. Pretty soon he hill be 30 and then 40, will it be OK for him to grope strangers then?

    I don’t see sports figures as heroes, but for better or worse they are role models for a large segment of the public. We don’t need a Kobe Bryant in our sport, it isn’t OK.

  41. 1. Sagan is a sexist pig. There is no excuse for his behaviour, a 23 year old male should know better. Sponsors that have any decency should remove their sponsorship for at least 6 months.

    2. All bikers should be ashamed that the biking competition community still use women as rewards for the winners. That women are being treated as objects by the organization behind the competition does not make the situation any better and makes for bad culture as well as it puts girls/women off from competing in cycling

  42. M- it all makes sense but you forget the population’s attention span, rapid memory loss and general desensitization. maybe if sagan did that a bar it would’ve been instant beatdown in some fashion for him and we’d be reading about how he got his ass kicked by her boyfriend. that. would be funny as well as educational for him but seeing how it’s played out…

  43. I find all of this banter amusing, and am surprised at how worked up people are getting over this. He’s 23, still a kid really, and made a mistake for which he publicly apologized. Judging by the photo, it was simply a poorly executed joke that was a spur of the moment thing. With all the crap he’s gotten for it, I would be surprised if he ever pulled a stunt like this again.

  44. @paul – fair play. just because it’s widely viewed it may not be always acceptable to some. personal space is well…personal. wasn’t saying the two are the same.

  45. Age must be a valid excuse. After all, people here claim it is. Dang it, it must be. Surely someone at that age wouldn’t know better. Wait……oh, they should know better.

  46. SatisFACTORYrider -Just to keep this straight, I am upper case Paul, there is someone else on this thread who is using a lower case p in his name, I am not him! lower case paul seems to represent the opposite viewpoint from mine, I should change my handle… Interesting point about the educational benefits an ass kicking by a boyfriend:)

    Christopher Alexander- Right on brother!

    Steve@G4G- Look man, 23 is definitely old enough to know better, Sagan isn’t a kid and there is a problem with his behavior. What if he did it to your girlfriend/wife or daughter? It would have been a far more interesting “joke” if he had tried to grope Cancellara instead of the podium girl.

  47. Steve@G4G –

    I want to reiterate that it is not about Sagan’s actions on an individual level.

    It is about that action being broadcast to a large audience and reinforcing the ideals of those who are disgustingly sexist , just peruse the comments here and you can see why it is such a big problem. People need to know that this behavior is not socially acceptable.

    Here are a few examples of Peter’s small action reinforcing a bunch of idiots (the worst examples have been moderated out):

    | Keith – “I say good for him taking advantage of the opportunity.”
    | Betty Beige – “Sagan is genetically a muthafugn P I M P, I don’t think that’s something you can technically apologize for”
    | Mindless – “So with have a bimbo who is kissing the winner (I bet she did not ask for a formal permission to touch him), and you can’t even pinch her butt?”
    | GNC – “fact is boys will be boys sometimes”
    | jdog – “Pete, keep riding like a champ and squeezing asses the same way.”

  48. Notice the majority of the negative comments are by….Americans.

    Which I am as well. But I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the rest of the world. Was this inappropriate perhaps even by Euro standards? Sure. Definitely. But is it the blown up the way it’s been over here? No.

    I’ve not heard what the podium girl’s response is who had her tush tapered with. But I’d like to see what SHE thinks first before anything else. Where is her comments? And why hasn’t anyone really asked? After all..she’s the person who’s probably offended, but what if she isn’t? And if she is…we should know.

  49. In all reality too…..this is nothing compared to the real sh!t moves American basketball, football, and baseball stars pull.

  50. Hey Keith,

    Keith – 04/01/13 – 6:08pm
    People are pathetic! I say good for him taking advantage of the opportunity. Too much politically correct crap!!! As the Eagles song says….GET OVER IT…..


  51. @Sevo

    Oh, I guess my sensitivity to sexism is just because I am not traveled or cultured enough. Exactly like how it’s not racist (because they’re Euro) that futball fans make monkey noises every time a black player touches the ball. Sexism and harassment are sexism and harassment regardless of the continent on which the actions are performed.

    As for what Maja has to say about it, you might want to do a quick google search to find out:

  52. What about that one time when he signed some chicks breasts after winning a race? It was televized. She obviously didn’t want him to do it. Yet all this outrage about this but not about that. I’m not arguing that his actions were right… I’m just pointing out that the media is strong at work.

  53. A stranger in the street did exactly what Sagan did to a colleague of mine. She reported it to the police and he was arrested, prosecuted and given a custodial sentence. It is not ok to touch people without their permission, whatever the context.

  54. Paul & Ian – I said nothing that should make you think I find what he did acceptable. I’m just surprised at how pissed people are about it. I guess Sir Lance is getting old, so people are finding the next guy to beat on for a while.

  55. Steve @ G4G – I am not beating up on anyone. In my original comment I said that what Sagan did was stupid, but he should be forgiven.

    It’s the comments here that give insight into the real problem. People have completely wrong attitudes toward this…ie. blaming the victim (“she’s a podium girl, what does she expect?”) and apologizing for Sagan (“boys will be boys”) — Both of these arguments also happen to be used in cases of rape, so this is a very scary slippery slope with very real precedents.

    If there were two interns at your nonprofit that were in the same situation, you surely wouldn’t have the “still a kid…poorly executed joke” attitude, so why do you have that here?

  56. I think the only problem with this is that he was in the wrong spot on the podium. These women are offered up to the winner as part of the reward for finishing first. They are part of the package and part of what is given to the winner. Had he won and grabbed some butt during the kiss- all is good. But, he didn’t win and therefore should have kept his hands to himself. It was inappropriate only in so much that it was akin to cock-blocking. He grabbed someone else’s prize when the only butt grabbing that should have occurred was by the winner. It’s the winner’s butt to grab, not someone who finished behind him. Sagan watched the winner’s butt cross the finish line so that was the only butt he gets on this race. The winner saw no butt on the finish because he was first and was therefore given two really nice butts to grab after it was over. I personally think the race organizers need to hire women who are willing to follow the winner back to the tour bus afterwards and pleasure them in anyway the winner sees fit. All this whiny PC baloney about butt grabbing is really misplaced. Europe is not the US. There tolerance of sex, prostitution, drugs is well beyond that of the US. The race organizers are to blame for dangling these scantily clad women in front of young male athletes without them being able to do to them what everyone who sees them wants to do to them (see tour bus comment above). Sagan is a dude. A young dude who quite obviously likes women. The unfair aspect of this is that the winner and those around him are expected to use high amounts of self control in their moment of victory. You win and we stick these two next to you but don’t grab them? I mean, come on! Why should the winners be punished by such a high level of frustration after they just won the race? I really hope that this behavior continues so the organizers and fans alike can get the message out that the winners SHOULD be rewarded sexually by beautiful women after the race. Maybe Sagan’s butt grab will be the spark the cycling community needs to mobilize and take action against a long standing transgression against the winners. This is the time to act. Let’s use this as the rally and the cry to stop the teasing- start the pleasing! Stop the teasing! Start the pleasing! Stop the teasing! Start the pleasing!

  57. Why have podium girls? They signify sexuality as a reward for the winner anyway. They used to go home with the winner. Funny how touchy this subject is to some. I understand that there needs to be respect for women but if you’re a podium girl….you have to expect a pinch every now and then.

What do you think?