Well at least E3 Saxo Bank Classic is consistent. On Monday, the Belgian Bike race’s X account posted a cartoon of Wout van Aert finishing the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Benidorm on Sunday without a saddle. He broke it off in the final kilometres after a crash.
The caption in Flemish read, “Wout van Aert zonder zadel over de meet. LGBTQ-gemeenschap laaiend enthousiast.” That translates to, “Wout van Aert crosses the finish line without a saddle. The LGBTQ community is very enthusiastic.” It doesn’t take a brainiac to understand the not-so-subtle reference the cartoon is making.
The caption in the crowd then mentions the “rainbow jersey,” seemingly referencing the pride flag.
This isn’t the first time the race organizer has released controversial marketing materials.
In 2015, a promotional poster for the race stirred significant controversy. The poster depicted the bare legs of a woman from behind, accompanied by a cyclist’s gloved hand seemingly poised to pinch the woman’s bottom. This imagery alluded to Peter Sagan’s actions following the 2013 Tour of Flanders, where he pinched a podium woman’s on her bum during the post-race ceremony. Regarded as “demeaning” and “misogynistic,” the poster faced criticism from the Belgian Jury of Advertising Ethics. In response, the UCI issued a disapproval statement, compelling the organizers to withdraw the controversial poster and replace it.
In 2019, organizers once again found themselves compelled to retract a contentious poster. The visual featured two body-painted women intertwined to create the shape of a frog, with the accompanying tagline: “Who shall crown himself prince in Harelbeke?” Just like in 2015, the E3 organizers faced were heavily criticized.
After the initial post, the race account decided to double down and post ANOTHER one, explaining in English that van Aert had finished the race without a saddle–in case people didn’t get the “joke.”
I am not Nostradamus, but methinks this post will not go over well and there will be significant backlash.
— E3 Saxo Classic (@E3SaxoClassic) January 22, 2024