The poster is a reference to an incident that happened two years ago, when rising star Peter Sagan pinched the bottom of a podium miss during the Tour of Flanders podium ceremony. The same Peter Sagan won the E3 Harelbeke last year. The title "wie knijpt ze?" is a pun. It can be translated as "who will pinch them" or either "who will be afraid"?
The IEMW says that the billboard violates anti-discrimination legislation tabled in 2007. "The slogan confirms the cyclist's intention to squeeze the girl's bum and thus encourages cyclists in general to do the same", a press release said.
"This campaign pictures women as a sex object and triggers sexual intimidation", says IEMW co-director Liesbet Stevens. "We need a change of mentality", she adds. "We will contact the leading sponsors of the event."
The UCI does not want to be associated with the poster and wants its logo to be removed. The Harelbeke organisers have confirmed that they have received a phone call from the UCI.
The E3 Harelbeke is considered as a small version of the Tour of Flanders spring classic. The race takes place 9 days before the Tour of Flanders, and includes similar sections of cobble stones and short but arduous climbs in the Flemish Ardennes. The race is being held on Friday 27 March with finish in Harelbeke, West Flanders.