Elite Dutch cyclist pulls out of world championship event in Australia after allegedly assaulting two teenage girls playing ‘knock-and-run’ on his hotel door the night before the race
- Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel withdraws from world championship race
- He has been charged with assaulting two teenage girls in Wollongong, NSW
- The 27-year-old is in Australia for the UCI Road World Championships
A Dutch cycling star sensationally withdrew from a world championship road race on Sunday after being charged with assaulting two teenage girls.
Mathieu van der Poel, 27, will face court after he was arrested and charged just hours before the race, where he was one of the title favourites for the 2022 UCI Road World Championships – a 266.9km race being held in Wollongong, south of Sydney.
Police allege the athlete physically confronted the 13 and 14-year-old girls at the Novotel in Brighton Le Sands on Saturday evening because they were playing a knock-and-run prank on his door while he was trying to get some sleep before the race.
Officer’s from Sydney’s St George Command have seized Van der Poel’s passport ahead of his Sutherland Court appearance on the September 27, after charging him with two counts of assaulting a child.
The rider who did not leave police custody until 4am, withdrew one hour into the race from exhaustion.
Mathieu van der Poel (pictured right with his girlfriend Roxanne Bertels) will front a Sydney court on Tuesday
‘I went to bed early and many children in the hallway of my room found it necessary to knock on the door continuously,’ he told the Belgian website Sporza before the start of the race.
‘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.
‘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.’
NSW Police will alleged Van der Poel pushed the two girls, causing one to fall over and the other to hit a wall suffering a minor graze to her elbow.
‘Hotel management were notified of the incident, who then called police,’ a NSW police spokesperson said in a statement.
‘Officers from St George police area command attended and arrested a 27-year-old man shortly after.’
Mathieu van der Poel of Netherlands rides across the Sea Cliff Bridge during the elite men’s road race at the world road cycling championships in Wollongong, Australia, Sunday, September 25, 2022
Mathieu van der Poel (pictured with his girlfriend Roxanne Bertels) is charged with assaulting two children
Van der Poel was taken to Kogarah police station where he remained until 4am, with the race starting at 10.15am.
Despite only sleeping for a few hours, Van der Poel stared the race, but retired from it at about 11am.
He was released on bail and will appear in Sutherland court on Tuesday.
The four-time cyclo-cross world champion and 2013 road race junior world champion was one of the favourites to win the rainbow jersey.