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Mathieu van der Poel fined A$1,500 after pleading guilty to assault after hotel incident

Dutch star who abandoned World Championship road race has now left Australia

Mathieu van der Poel has been fined a total of A$1,500 (£909) after admitting two counts of common assault in connection with an incident in his hotel in Sydney on the eve of yesterday’s UCI Road Cycling World Championship Men Elite road race, won by Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel.

> Remco Evenepoel solos his way to World Championship victory

The 27-year-old, who had been one of the big favourites to win the race, was kept awake by youths outside his room at the Grand Parade Hotel in Brighton-Le-Sands on Saturday night and after they knocked on his door at around midnight, confronted two teenage girls aged 13 and 14.

> Mathieu van der Poel charged with assault after incident at hotel hours before World Championship road race

According to New South Wales Police, who were called by hotel management, he pushed both of them, with one of the girls falling to the ground and the other sustaining a grazed elbow after scraping it against a wall.

The Dutch star was arrested and taken to a police station where he was charged with two counts of common assault, and returned to the hotel at 4am.

He went to breakfast at 7am having been unable to sleep, and while he started the race, the events of the night had clearly taken a mental and physical toll and he abandoned with just 35km ridden.

Van der Poel had been due to appear in Sutherland Local Court tomorrow, but the hearing was brought forward to today due to the timing of his return flight to the Belgium, and his home town of Kapellen, north of Antwerp.

After admitting both counts, van der Poel was fined a total of A$1,500 by Magistrate Hugh Donnelly, who told him that he was wrong to have taken the law into his own hands and should have called hotel security instead, reports Sporza.

His lawyer told the Belgian broadcaster that in the courtroom, van der Poel’s partner “was in tears and he was very disappointed himself.

"He has a great reputation, so does his family. He said it felt like he disappointed his country and his team."

The rider is now on his way back home, and as a result of his conviction will be unable to re-enter Australia for three years, reports News.com.au.

Before the start of the race, van der Poel confirmed that he was the rider involved in the previous night’s incident, saying: “It’s true, yes. There was a small dispute. It was about noisy neighbours and they are quite strict here.

“I wasn’t back in my room until 4 o’clock. That’s certainly not ideal. It’s a disaster, but I can’t change anything anymore. I’m trying to make the best of it.

“I’ll race on little sleep, hopefully on adrenaline. It was certainly not fun. It is what it is, I have to deal with it.”

Regarding the incident itself, he said: “I went to bed early and many kids in the hallway of my room found it necessary to knock on the door continuously.

“After a few times I was done with it. I didn’t ask so nicely to stop. Then the police were called and I was taken away,” he added.

Speaking to reporters in Wollongong yesterday, Christoph Roodhooft, van der Poel’s boss at Team Alpecin-Deceuninck, said that he had spoken with the rider who had told him of the effect the incident had on him.

“He didn‘t sleep all night and was mentally a bit broken as well,” Roodhooft said.

“He was expecting a lot of this day and did all he could in the last two months after his bad Tour de France.

“He had found joy and happiness again in cycling and was hoping to have a nice race today,” he added.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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19 comments

Avatar
Jetmans Dad | 1 year ago
0 likes

It sure does sound to me like some people on this board have never met a teenager. 

And condoning his behaviour because of the "pressure" he was under is kind of amusing, given that MvdP's cool head and ability to respond in the right way under pressure is one of the things that makes him a stand out competitor. 

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Paul J replied to Jetmans Dad | 1 year ago
0 likes

Plenty of teens in days past have had a clip around the ear when engaging in persistently annoying teenage behaviour.

Pretty sure I ended up with a broken rib myself as a teen, though never told the parents so never got it checked to be sure (can't do anything for a rib anyway). Just suffered quietly for the first few days....  3

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Secret_squirrel replied to Jetmans Dad | 1 year ago
1 like

Im not sure being able to respond under pressure prepping and performing cycle racing equates in any way shape or form to being able to respond in the right way to a completely different type of pressure.

Its like swapping a soldier and a copper and asking them to fight a battle and talk a drunk down on a saturday night.

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cmedred | 1 year ago
1 like

MVDP should be celebrating. He has the perfect excuse not to go to Australia for at least three years even if his team wants him to race there. The country appears among the world's most cyclists unfriendly of places. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-29/cyclist-mike-hall-police-botched-...

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Roulereo replied to cmedred | 1 year ago
1 like

I know right? We're so much better here in the UK. 

Anyway back to my daily whiney read of NMOTD...

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kil0ran | 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm amazed with the reaction to this.
Grown man assaulting children? How is that ever right? There's certainly no self defence mitigation here. Just slam the door and call security/his team.
There's not even a chance he was about to be stitched up with a sexual assault claim given his girlfriend was in the room.

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Carton replied to kil0ran | 1 year ago
1 like

So, fair enough if you think A "grown man assaulting children" is never right, but then don't say that he should just tell the off and slam the door, because that seems to be precisely why he's being charged with assault. 

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Paul J replied to Carton | 1 year ago
0 likes

According to reports, he ended up charging after them and pushed them in or into their room. Causing one to fall and get a minor abrasion.

This was, according to reports, after the /n'th/ time they'd knocked on his door, over *3 hours*, and _after_ he had already complained to their parents - who evidently did nothing in response to control their children, but just continued to leave them unsupervised in their hotel room.

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Flintshire Boy | 1 year ago
7 likes

.

What the hell were the team management doing?

.

How could he ever have been put in a situation where this could have happened?

.

Can you imagine (say) the England football team's hotel doors suffering 'knock-a-door-runs'?

.

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IanEdward replied to Flintshire Boy | 1 year ago
3 likes

Responding to this and my own post below, according to comments on another website MvdP was sharing a room with his girlfriend rather than several floors above with the rest of the team (as he had a cold and didn't want to share with the rest of the team) and he apparently only phoned team AFTER the incident. Very weird.

After the Olympic MTB you wonder how good a relationship he has with the Dutch team in reality (although are Olympic MTB team different from UCI Road team?).

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Flintshire Boy | 1 year ago
2 likes
Quote:

Can you imagine (say) the England football team's hotel doors suffering 'knock-a-door-runs'?

Well if they were in Iceland......

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IanEdward | 1 year ago
4 likes

Where on earth were the team management?

It's hardly Ineos level 'marginal gains' to make sure your star rider and contender for the World Champs jersey should get an uninterrupted night's sleep?

He should not have been in a situation where he had to deal with it himself, lord knows I've put up with crappy night's sleep in hostels etc. before for avoidance of confrontation with noisy drunks etc

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EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
6 likes

Should sue the parents.Normal people would be horrified / embarressed at the behaviour of their kids and would apologise - and would tell the police not to bother proceeding.

They didn't do that and so are utter muppets in my book... 

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Secret_squirrel replied to EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
2 likes

He's hardly going to win a civil lawsuit if he's already plead guilty.  And sue them for what exactly?  Knock and run isnt a crime.

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brooksby replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
2 likes

Were they knocking-and-running, say, all the rooms on their floor, or just the famous athlete's room?

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Awavey replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
0 likes

well maybe they do it differently Down Under, but surely part of knocking and running, is you dont hang around the vicinity of the door after the knock bit...thats when the running part kicks in...so you arent ever at risk of the angry recipient behind the knocked door ever being within pushing reach of you into walls.

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EddyBerckx replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
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Secret_squirrel wrote:

He's hardly going to win a civil lawsuit if he's already plead guilty.  And sue them for what exactly?  Knock and run isnt a crime.

Yeah good point. Kinda assumed there'd be something you could stick them with...probably too much hassle for too little benefit anyhow.

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Daddy Feebs | 1 year ago
8 likes

I'm absolutely going to condone his actions. I understand the stress that he must have been feeling the night before the Championships, and the unique pressure it must have brought to bear. A pressure which would have meant normal reactions were altered. Those altered reactions were in response to repeated and unreasonable provocations. If he were to crowdfund that fine, I'd be first in the queue, to chuck some money in the hat. 

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Patrick9-32 | 1 year ago
7 likes

I am not condoning his actions, as the judge said, he should have called security and got it dealt with properly but I understand why he would be angry enough to do what he did.

Being kept awake on a normal day is enough to make me super angry but the night before a world championships? Especially when they were deliberately and maliciously keeping you up would be enough to make you irrational. 

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