Well that was fast. On Tuesday, the E3 Saxo Bank Classic deleted a homophobic cartoon featuring Wout van Aert, along with a hollow apology.
On Monday, the official social media account of the Belgian bike race shared a cartoon illustrating Wout van Aert completing the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Benidorm on Sunday without a saddle. He had broken it off in the final kilometers following a crash.
Offensive reference to the race
“Wout van Aert zonder zadel over de meet. LGBTQ-gemeenschap laaiend enthousiast,” the caption in Flemish read. That translates to, “Wout van Aert crosses the finish line without a saddle. The LGBTQ community is very enthusiastic.” I’m sure you can figure out the reference. There was also a joke about the rainbow jersey, and the pride flag.
No one was laughing
After the post, there was a flurry of criticism. Commentator José Been posted in Dutch, “echt waar? Wow,” which translates to, “really guys? Wow.”
Julian Allen replied, “That’s three strikes for E3 posters. Time for someone to go.” Martin Smith
echoed the sentiment, saying, “You do this literally every year.”
Popular X poster, @NairoInGreen pointed out the apology seemed hollow. “‘Misjudged’, what is there to misjudge here. You know what you posted.”
The apology was posted on X, the same platform where the cartoon appeared. “As E3 Saxo Classic, we would like to apologize for the cartoon we launched yesterday. We certainly didn’t want to offend anyone here. We misjudged the cartoon. We will certainly discuss this internally. Our sincere apologies.”
i would take this more seriously if you didn’t have previous in questionable graphics already with those race posters. i see the apology, i just don’t know how sincere it is. https://t.co/egY7EQMp1Z
— robyn (@robynjournalist) January 23, 2024
Plus ça change
It seems history loves to repeat itself. In 2015, a promotional poster for the race sparked controversy by depicting a woman’s bare legs with a cyclist’s gloved hand appearing to pinch her bottom—a reference to Peter Sagan’s 2013 Tour of Flanders incident. Labeled as “demeaning” and “misogynistic,” the poster faced criticism from the Belgian Jury of Advertising Ethics. Responding to UCI’s disapproval, organizers withdrew and replaced the poster.
In 2019, organizers faced a similar situation when they had to retract another controversial poster featuring body-painted women forming a frog…