Mathieu Van der Poel left a few kilometers from the start of the World Championship line event held in Australia last Sunday, the cyclist weighed down by an incident the night before with some teenage girls for which he was taken to the police station and which prevented him from resting. Upon his arrival in Brussels on Tuesday, the Dutchman gave his version of the events.
"I regret what happened, of course. I had to have solved it in another way. But it was late and I wanted to sleep. But now I can't go back," explained Van der Poel, one of the rainbow favourites, who was altered his dream by two young men, aged 13 and 14, who repeatedly knocked on the door of his room at The Grand Parade hotel.
"It is rumored that I pushed the girls, but that did not happen. I grabbed a girl by the arm, not with the intention of doing harm. Everyone who knows me knows that I have never hurt anyone," said the two-time winner of the Tour of Flanders, the Amstel and the Strade Bianche, among other successes, at the airport after landing from a flight from Sydney.
The one from Kapellen acknowledged before the start of the World Cup test that there was "a small dispute" that he did not resolve "kindly". "He hasn't slept, he was mentally broken," said Christoph Roodhooft, manager of the Alpecin team, after Van der Poel left a test in which Remco Evenepoel won.
"Now the team and my lawyer are going to handle it more. I should have told someone, the front desk or something, anyway. It was getting late and I wanted to sleep. I thought I'd fix it myself, which ended up being completely wrong. Unfortunately I can't change it anymore."
Before the commotion created, around 10:40 p.m., the hotel called the police, who took Van der Poel to the Kogarah police station, where he was charged with two counts of common assault. He was later released at around 4am, albeit on bail conditional on his subsequent statement to Sutherland Local Court, which has sentenced him to pay 1,500 Australian dollars.
"I will rest at home for a while. I am happy to return, because I want to put this behind me as soon as possible," said the Dutchman, who is initially registered in the Il Lombardia classic, the last 'monument' of the season that takes place on Saturday October 8 between the Italian towns of Bergamo and Como. "It depends on how I recover in the next few days," the competition concluded on his return.