He wanted to become world champion but ended up at the police station: Dutch cycling champion Mathieu van der Poel went from dream to nightmare on Sunday and will now have to answer to Australian justice for assaulting two teenage girls.
Arrested by the police on Saturday evening before being released in the early morning, the Dutchman took the start of the Worlds road race in Wollongong, the queen event of which he was one of the big favorites. But he dismounted after only thirty kilometers, exhausted and “mentally destroyed”.
“He would have pushed the two teenage girls”
According to Christoph Roodhooft, the manager of his professional team Alpecin-Fenix, the multiple cyclocross world champion has “not slept all night”, after an incident which occurred on Saturday evening in the Dutch hotel in Brighton -Le-Sands, in the southern suburbs of Sydney, revealed by the Flemish channel Sporza. Without disclosing Van der Poel’s identity, New South Wales police confirmed that a 27-year-old man, the racer’s age, had been charged with two assaults on two teenage girls aged 13 and 14.
“At around 10.40pm on Saturday, a man was involved in a verbal altercation with two teenage girls aged 13 and 14 at a hotel in Brighton-Le-Sands. According to the alleged facts, he pushed the two teenage girls, one falling to the ground and the other being thrown against a wall, causing a small scratch on her elbow,” police said in a statement.
“The hotel management was notified and then called the police” and “a 27-year-old man was arrested shortly afterwards”, before being “taken to the Kogarah police station” where he was “charged with two cases of assault,” police added. Released on bail, Van der Poel is now due to appear in court in Sutherland on Tuesday.
At the start of the race in line, Van der Poel did not deny the incident. “Yes it’s true, there was a little argument,” he told reporters. “I wanted to go to bed early last night but there were lots of kids in the hotel hallway who kept knocking on my door. After a while, I was fed up. I told them, in a not very sympathetic way, to stop. It was then that the police were called and took me” to the station, he said.
A summons to court on Tuesday
“Mathieu went to bed at 9:00 p.m. and at midnight there was still noise. Children were playing in the hallway and knocking on his door. He came out to tell them to stop but obviously not in the right way,” said Christoph Roodhooft, interviewed by the press.
Returning to his room “at four in the morning”, Van der Poel then did not sleep a wink all night, according to his team manager. “It’s certainly not ideal, it’s even a disaster, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I will do my best,” said the runner before taking the start. He gave up after only thirty kilometers of racing, before rushing into a white SUV, without saying a word.
The thunderclap shook the peloton. ” What ? He said hello to me at the start! “Launched the double title holder Julian Alaphilippe to his coach, Thomas Voeckler, when the latter came up to him during the race to tell him that Van der Poel had “covered”. “He is very disappointed, he is mentally destroyed,” reported Christoph Roodhooft. “He had a lot of ambitions for this race. He had been gaining momentum for two months and had found the joy of racing after his difficult Tour de France. »
But rather than on a potential podium, Mathieu van der Poel’s World Cup will therefore be played in court on Tuesday.
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