By Julien Pretot
DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Belgian rider Jan Bakelants has apologized after making derogatory remarks about the women who hand out the honors after stages of the Tour de France.
Tour organizers on Wednesday demanded that the AG2R-La Mondiale rider, a Tour stage winner in 2013, apologized after he quoted as saying by Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws he would bring with him a "pack of condoms, because you never know where those podium chicks have been hanging out".
"My sincerest apologies to all those offended by my words ... My words have been inappropriate," the Belgian wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
The team, led by last year's runner-up Romain Bardet, apologized on Wednesday, saying it was "very bad taste".
Tour hostesses have long been a feature of cycling races.
Often students, they work long hours hosting sponsors before presenting flowers, prizes and the various colored jerseys riders win for leading a particular category of the race.
They flank the winning rider on the podium while photographs are taken, often kissing him on the cheek, but other communication between the women and riders is forbidden.
At the 2013 Tour of Flanders, now world champion Peter Sagan apologized after grabbing a women's bottom on the podium.
Bakelants's team mate Bardet is one of the favorites for this year's Tour de France, which runs from July 1-23.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Alison Williams)