You see ‘em every day at the finish line, they’re impossible to ignore and many say the most beautiful in the biz, but who are these girls who kiss the winners and smile for the cameras? PEZ introduced ourselves to the lovely podium girls of the Giro d’Italia.
It’s a competition nearly as fierce as the Giro itself. Dozens and dozens of Italian beauties vie for the coveted jobs every year. Many apply, but only a few are chosen. Allow us to introduce you to… Elena, Samantha, Elena (yup, two Elenas) and Valentina.
• Elena – Age 25. Hometown, Milano.
Elena told us that there is a strict choreography to the ceremony. The stage winner, overall leader, best sprinter, top climber, the best young rider, and the top team are all honored every day on the podium.
First, the girls present the flowers… then a gift from the sponsor… then the jersey… followed by a kiss… and finally, the champagne.
So, how does Elena feel about kissing a guy who’s been sweatin’ on his bike for the last four or five hours? “I just leave the lipstick on the cheek. I try not to taste anything.”
• Samantha – Age 29. Hometown, Milano.
At age 28, Samantha is the “den mother” of the girls, and the unofficial spokesperson for the whole bunch.
Samantha says that there’s a strict Giro rule… no spraying champagne on the podium girls! “Last year, one of the riders sprayed me, and I got all wet. This year is different. They’re not allowed to spray the girls.”
Samantha is originally from Brazil, and she worked as a nurse in Iceland and Denmark before moving to Italy last year.
All four of these podium girls work for Gazzetta dello Sport, and Samantha told us that they each earn about 2,600 Euros for the three weeks of work. Not a bad vacation job, eh?
“But when I go back to work, that’s what I’m focused on… my work. I don’t really talk about the Giro. I don’t want to boost myself at work. This is just one more experience in my life. I’ll look back on it, I’m sure, but I won’t brag about it.”
• Valentina – Age 20. Hometown, Brescia.
Like all the girls, Valentina is the queen of the quick change. She and her partner Elena present three different jerseys every day, which means that they have hit the podium in three separate outfits… and they have only one minute between presentations to make the changes.
So far there have been no ‘costume malfunctions’. We volunteered to help the behind-the-scenes, to make sure that all the seams were straight and the buttons were buttoned. … Didn’t get far with that one…
• Elena – Age, 19. Hometown, Terni.
She’s presents the “Ciclamino” sprinter’s jersey to the points leader every day. It’s the perfect job for Elena… her favorite rider is perennial sprint champ Alessandro Petacchi. “He’s a beautiful boy and a beautiful rider.”
Elena is aware that Ale Jet is married, and there’s a strict rule that podium girls can not date the riders during the Giro, but she still has her eye on Liquigas star Vicenzo Nibali.
They share the stage with the best riders in the world every day, and their day begins long before the race reaches the finish. It ends shortly after the champagne dries.
We say ‘ciao’ to the podium girls… we’ll see you again down the road.
Up next for your trusty PEZ crew… we’ll be hanging out with the frenzied fans atop the Cima Coppi, the Colle dell’Agnello, as the Giro winds it’s way through the mountains from Italy and into France, and then it’s dinner with Team Tinkoff.
Until then wish us well… we have no hotel room for tonight, but that’ll sort itself out.
As always…Vive il sogno.