By BRUCE MUTSVAIRO, Associated Press
AMSTERDAM -- To the winner goes the cup, the champagne and a kiss from a couple of pretty girls, right?
Or maybe from a couple of guys.
A left-wing party in Amsterdam is proposing that gay men replace the miniskirted women who traditionally kiss the winner of the first leg of the Giro d'Italia, one of Europe's premier bicycle races, which begins May 8.
"It should be possible for gay men to celebrate with the winner," said Fjodor Molenaar, an alderman from the Green Left party, which is part of the city's governing coalition. One rider in 10 is gay, he said.
The idea is winning support in this notably tolerant city, which annually hosts one of the world's most elaborate gay pride parades.
But Albert van der Meulen, whose television station is arranging the ceremony, said he'd rather have women on the podium.
"I don't even think the race participants want to be kissed by men," van der Meulen said.
The station has arranged a beauty contest March 5 to select two people to present the flowers to the winner of the Amsterdam leg. Most entrants are young women, but van der Meulen confirmed three are gay men.
The municipality of Amsterdam says it will support whoever wins.
"It's an appealing proposal that fits well with the Amsterdam's tradition of supporting gay emancipation," said city spokesman Bas Bruijn.
Philip Tijsma of COC, a Gay and Lesbian activist group, also embraced the proposal.
"There are Moroccan lesbians in veils. There are gay teachers in Christian schools. There are soccer players who are bisexual," Tijsma said. "So why can the glamour girls not be replaced by guys?"