Mathieu van der Poel, who was among the favourites to win today’s Elite Men Road Race at the UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong, has been charged with assault following an incident overnight at his hotel, reports Sporza.
The Dutch rider, who attended a police station overnight, returned to his hotel at around 4am, around six hours before the start of the race – won by Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel – but abandoned after just 35km.
— UCI (@UCI_cycling) September 25, 2022
> Remco Evenepoel solos his way to World Championship victory
The 27 year old said that last night he was woken repeatedly by a pair of teenage girls knocking on the door of the hotel room in the southern Sydney suburb of Brighton-Le-Sands.
In a statement from New South Wales Police tweeted by journalist Thijs Zonneveld, a spokesperson said that following a “verbal altercation” between a man – van der Poel – and two teenage girls aged 13 and 14, “it is further alleged the man then pushed both teenagers, with one falling to the ground and the other being pushed into a wall, causing a minor graze to her elbow.
“Hotel management were notified of the incident, who then called police. Officers from St George police area command attended and arrested a 27-year-old man shortly after.”
Van der Poel, who has been required to surrender his passport, was charged with two counts of common assault and released on conditional bail, and is due to appear on Tuesday at Sutherland Local Court.
Hier het statement van de lokale politie: pic.twitter.com/MiuIwV109u
— Thijs Zonneveld (@thijszonneveld) September 25, 2022
Belgian broadcaster Sporza reports that van der Poel confirmed before the start of today’s race that he was the rider involved in the incident.
“It’s true, yes. There was a small dispute. It was about noisy neighbours and they are quite strict here,” he explained.
“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.”
Speaking about 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.