Belgian cyclist Jan Bakelants has said sorry for a comment about the women who stand on the podium at the end of each stage of the Tour de France.
Bakelants told a Belgian newspaper he would carry a “pack of condoms, because you never know where those podium chicks have been hanging out”.
The women present gifts, flowers and coloured jerseys at the end of stages.
This year’s Tour de France gets under way on Saturday, starting in the German city of Düsseldorf.
Bakelants, who rides for the AG2R-La Mondiale team and won a stage in the 2013 race, made his comments when asked in an interview in last Wednesday’s Het Laastse Nieuws about sexual abstention during the three-week Tour.
AG2R-La Mondiale apologised for the comments, saying they were in “very bad taste”.
The Tour organisers ASO also demanded an apology from Bakelants for the “sexist” remarks.
Bakelants, 31, and married with a young daughter, took to Twitter to say sorry.
“My sincerest apologies to all those offended by my words in a so called humouristic itw (sic). My words have been inappropriate.”
The women work long hours on the tour, hosting sponsors and then appearing for the ritual donning of the coloured jerseys, including the race-leading yellow, at the end of each stage.
They often give a kiss to each cheek of the jersey recipients but the riders are not allowed to communicate with them.
In 2013, Slovak cyclist Peter Sagan apologised for pinching the bottom of podium presenter Maja Leye during the Tour of Flanders race.
He said: “I am so sorry and I hope that Maja and anyone else I have offended knows how sorry I am. I promise to act more respectfully in the future.”