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Verbruggen: rider´s comments ‘not very smart’
You might just call it the rough equivalent of trash talk… only in Flemish.
Holland’s Richard Groenendaal was quoted in Thursday’s edition of the Belgian humor magazine Humo as encouraging Dutch fans to bring bats and other weapons to this weekend’s world championship cyclo-cross race in Zolder, Belgium. Groenendaal, who has had at least one violent encounter with a Belgian fan this season, described the Flemish hordes as “the enemy.”
The 31-year-old Rabobank cyclo-cross star went on to say that Dutch fans would be arriving in Zolder “armed with bats” to counter the interference of Belgians who may be too intent upon seeing a Belgian win this year’s rainbow jersey.
The tension between Groenendaal and his vocal foes grew serious in December after the 31-year-old cyclist punched a Belgian fan who was haranguing him during an edition of the Superprestige series in Diegem, Belgium. Race judges at the event imposed a fine for the rider’s behavior, but he now faces further disciplinary action by the sport’s international governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale.
UCI President Hein Verbruggen, attending the annual meeting of the organization’s management committee in nearby Hasselt, told VeloNews that the contents of the Humo article would “be added to the file that was already going to the disciplinary committee looking into the incident at Diegem.
“If he said that, it was not too smart,” Verbruggen said. “Of course, we need to talk to him, too.”
Verbruggen characterized the Diegem incident as “muddying the image of the sport,” adding that if Groenendaal’s comments are true, they can only hurt his case. “Either way, I’m certain there will be an appropriate penalty.”
Groenendaal, who won this past weekend´s World Cup final in Heerlen in the Netherlands, is widely considered among the favorites for the world title. Groenendaal is the only non-Belgian among the top-five in the World Cup standings. There were no incidents or threats during Sunday´s race in Heerlen.