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Mathieu van der Poel assault conviction overturned by Australian court

The Sydney judge said the girls who repeatedly knocked on his door the night before the World Championship road race had been "annoying and invasive"...

A judge has overturned Mathieu van der Poel's assault conviction relating to an incident at his hotel on the night before the men's road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong, Australia, in September.

Both the common assault convictions were quashed, as well as the A$1,500 fines, with the judge highlighting the "annoying and invasive" actions of the teenage girls who repeatedly knocked on the Dutch rider's door as he tried to sleep.

The Australian Daily Telegraph reports judge Ian Bourke SC told Sydney Downing Centre District Court while Van der Poel's reaction — chasing the girls aged 13 and 14 into their own room and pushing one against a wall — would have been "disturbing" for the pair, it came as a "response to annoying and invasive conduct" and a "significant degree of provocation".

Judge Bourke also questioned why the girls were left alone in the hotel, describing their knock-and-run actions as "silly conduct by unsupervised children", while Van der Poel's defence lawyer Michael Bowe said it was "deliberately to bait him and wind him up".

Mr Bowe admitted his client "fell into the trap" and suffered "exceptional embarrassment and humiliation" in the months since, also pointing out if the convictions were not to be overturned then he could have difficulties travelling internationally during the remainder of his career.

Speaking outside the court after the successful appeal, Mr Bowe said he had not spoken to Van der Poel yet but he would be "very, very happy" as "he's a dedicated sportsman and cyclist" who "didn't need a conviction".

"It's really important these matters were dismissed," Mr Bowe concluded.

Mathieu van der Poel at Wollongong 2022 (copyright Simon Wilkinson,

The day after the incident, having been taken to Kogarah Police Station, only returning to his hotel room at 4am on the day of the race, Van der Poel abandoned just 45 minutes into the 267km event.

According to court documents, the 27-year-old became "frustrated" when the girls repeatedly knocked on his door, room 930 of the Grand Parade Hotel, at 10.40pm, running back to their own room before he could answer.

Despite Van der Poel's girlfiriend, who was also staying in the room, asking the pair to stop they continued, the Alpecin-Deceuninck pro waiting for the next knock before "chasing them into their hotel room, following close behind".

One of the girls suffered a graze on her elbow as she was pushed against a wall while being shouted at by Van der Poel and the whole incident was captured in a somewhat incoherent mobile phone recording.

The police arrived shortly after and formally charged Van der Poel, taking him to the police station, confiscating his passport and issuing a court order.

In the week after the road race Van der Poel pleaded guilty to the assault charges and he was allowed to travel home to the Netherlands, his lawyer stressing at the time that they intended to appeal the convictions, a process that concluded earlier today in Sydney.

In the storm of reaction that followed the incident the father of the teenage girls was critical of the fact Van der Poel had "fled the country" and argued that if he had "assaulted children [then] I'd be locked up in jail for a year because I can't afford bail".

> "If I assaulted children, I'd be locked up": Father of teenage girls involved in Mathieu van der Poel hotel incident slams Dutch star’s fine

Emad, the father, said Van der Poel had "every right to be angry, but not to do what he did" and said his daughters were "very shaken" by the incident.

"The eldest is a daredevil, but this shocked her. He was yelling at my youngest, the 12-year-old, saying 'were you doing this as well?' and she was freaking out. They are very shaken.

"But they did get in trouble. They are in trouble. He's got every right to get angry, but not to do what he did. They're tiny little girls, and he's massive.

"Look, I did things when I was their age, but the younger one had Covid only a few weeks ago and this was their time out. They were excited… but then they were a bit naughty. My wife's angry that he's fled the country as well as what he did.

"We went to the hospital on Sunday and I'm taking her [one of the girls] to the psychologist because she's scared. 

"She's worried she's in trouble and has done something wrong because some people are blaming her and me, saying it was the girls' fault and I'm a bad parent, but it was the school holidays – what kids at that age are going to bed at nine o'clock?"

The end of season incident signalled the end of Van der Poel's road racing campaign, but he has since made a winning return to the cyclocross scene, taking victory at the recent World Cup rounds in Hulst and Antwerp.

This Saturday's round in Val di Sole in northern Italy's Trentino valley will be his first competitive outing since the convictions were overturned.

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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Rik Mayals unde... | 1 year ago

Is it any surprise the girls behaved in such a way, with the attitude of the father? Entitled brats, with an entitled father. 

jollygoodvelo | 1 year ago

As in so many things, there are no winners.  You can say he overreacted, and he was clearly out of line to go into their room, but how much longer would the disturbance have gone on without him reacting?  Should teams need to post security outside the hotel doors of their riders to ensure they get sleep?  It's just a stupid thing all round.

AlsoSomniloquism replied to jollygoodvelo | 1 year ago


Should teams need to post security outside the hotel doors of their riders to ensure they get sleep?

They probably did on the floor they had booked. 

I do wonder why did they deliberately target him though. Did they know who he was? Was he the only one to initially react to their initial disturbances? Didn't any other guest get disturbed on that floor?

HoarseMann replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago

His room was directly opposite theirs, so just unlucky to be the most convenient door to knock on.

As you allude, he was originally allocated a room on another floor where the rest of the team were. But wanted to stay with his girlfriend, so ended up on a floor with other hotel guests.

He should have just called the hotel reception to get it dealt with, but took the poor decision to take matters into his own hands, probably due to the stress of the next days race.

Paul J replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago

As someone else answered, his room was just across and down from theirs. Also, I gather from the female members of my family, he is a good-looking young man, so... maybe that was a factor too.

My understanding of reporting in the dutch press earlier is that the /last/ knock occurred at ~2240. However, they had started doing this more than an /hour/ before - 2130 or earlier. He'd tried to go to bed at 2100.

So over an hour of them tormenting him, on the eve of one of the most important 1-day races on his calendar. And *after* his girlfriend had already spoken to the *mother*, explained the importance and asked them to stop - upon which the mother left them alone again!

chineseJohn | 1 year ago

perhaps the father reread what he said, he's an embarrassment. If it was my son and his friends doing it, my son would be grounded and be punished. 

andystow replied to chineseJohn | 1 year ago

"She's worried she's in trouble and has done something wrong because some people are blaming her and me...

Um, she did do something wrong.

Paul J replied to chineseJohn | 1 year ago

The comments from the father help to explain how his kids behave like this.

Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago

The parents comments have aged well hey?

As a parent, I genuinely would not have felt the same way they did had it been my children. 

My kids have been raised on the notion that if you choose to poke a bear, be prepared for it to bite. 

NOtotheEU replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

The parents comments have aged well hey?

Along with some of the comments under the original article.

Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

Justice 1 - 0 Bad Parenting

Its just a shame that justice cant punish a partent for being an unapologetic scumbag.

JustTryingToGet... replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
1 like
Secret_squirrel wrote:

Justice 1 - 0 Bad Parenting

Its just a shame that justice cant punish a partent for being an unapologetic scumbag.

Dunno what the rules are down under, but here a safeguarding referral would not be out of order.

Steve K replied to JustTryingToGetFromAtoB | 1 year ago

Not defending the father, but it really isn't a safeguarding issue.

JustTryingToGet... replied to Steve K | 1 year ago
Steve K wrote:

Not defending the father, but it really isn't a safeguarding issue.

I disagree, unattended kids in a hotel is absolutely a safe guarding issue. Hotels

If the adults refusing to attend to the children were teachers or youth workers on a trip, I believe it would be considered a safe guarding failing.

As it stands, a pair of muppets that did not attend to the children, whilst the children repeatedly came into conflict with adult strangers and were injured (albeit minor, but frankly could have been a lot worse) get a pass.

Velo-drone replied to JustTryingToGetFromAtoB | 1 year ago
JustTryingToGetFromAtoB wrote:

I disagree, unattended kids in a hotel is absolutely a safe guarding issue.

Nonsense. The youngest was 12, which is a perfectly reasonable age to be left alone in a hotel room, especially along with and.older child.

Our 10 yr old sees herself to and from school, music lessons etc and cooks one family meal a week. Infantlising 12 year olds as if they can't be expected to be responsible for themselves is actually part of the problem.

cyclisto | 1 year ago

Good, common sense still exists.

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