'Bum pinch' inspires craze
Peter Sagan (Getty Images)
Bratislava - Slovaks have been pinching the bottoms of strangers this week in solidarity with cyclist compatriot Peter Sagan, embroiled in a sexism row for pinching the bottom of a podium girl after the Tour of Flanders.
More than 4 500 people have "liked" a group which popped up on Facebook challenging Slovaks to pinch a stranger's bottom to support Sagan's risque manoeuvre last Sunday - and post pictures of themselves doing likewise.
Sagan, 23, smirked towards the camera as he grabbed the bottom of a blonde hostess, one of two giving congratulatory kisses to race winner Fabian Cancellara, who beat Sagan for top spot.
VIDEO: Sagan sorry for bum pinch
The ensuing storm has encouraged some Slovakians to turn the issue on its head.
"The hostess kissing the winner - a complete stranger - is a shocking case of harassment in the workplace," wrote Tomas Teicher in his blog on Slovakia's leading daily SME's website.
"It's good to know that if someone pinches my bottom tomorrow at work they will do so to support Sagan," Zuzana Kostolnakova wrote on the Facebook group called "Assupport Peter Sagan".
Sagan's behaviour has provoked a storm of outrage on Twitter, prompting him to apologise and tweet that he had only acted in jest.
"Shame that Peter Sagan has so much class on a bike and so very little off it," wrote British cyclist Michael Hutchinson on Twitter.
Jane Aubrey, editor of Australian website cyclingnews.com, also condemned Sagan's actions.
"Anyone excusing Sagan's behaviour due to his age, needs to think again. In the workplace, it's called harassment," she tweeted.
Sagan later tweeted it was not his "intention to disrespect women today on the podium. Just a joke, sorry if someone was disturbed about it."
"I promise to act more respectfully in the future," he said in a video published on his official website.