AS the debate over whether Formula One ‘grid girls’ are an outdated concept re-emerges, the Tour de Yorkshire has upped the equality ante.

The debate regarding the future of ‘grid’ or ‘podium’ girls has come back into focus following the revelation that Formula One’s new owners Liberty Media are looking into whether the sport should continue to use ‘grid girls’ to conduct certain promotional tasks.

Organisers behind the Tour de Yorkshire say that they are proud to have broken the tradition when the race launched in 2015 and have announced that the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race will be even bigger next year.

Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity said: “When we launched the Tour de Yorkshire we felt it vital that our race highlighted equality and we remain passionate about growing women’s sport.

“I wholeheartedly welcome Formula One’s decision to review its use of grid girls and will be following developments closely.”

Instead of employing tightly-clothed podium girls to hand out prizes at the end of each Tour de Yorkshire stage, successful Yorkshire-based businesswomen were asked to do the honours.

Caroline Harrison, the chief executive of Aspire-igen, and freelance communications and marketing consultant Philippa Campbell stepped up to the task and they have both been a constant fixture since 2015.

The Santos Tour Down Under –a road cycling race in and around Adelaide - has a knowledge-sharing partnership with the Tour de Yorkshire and were inspired to make a similar move in 2017 by replacing podium girls with junior cyclists.

The Tour de Yorkshire also broke the mould in 2016 when it made the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race the most lucrative event in female cycling with a prize pot of £50,000 .

This was significantly larger than its equivalent men’s race.

Such was the success of the first two editions that the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race will double in size from one to two days in 2018.