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Mathieu van der Poel flies back to Europe from Wollongong $1,500AU ($980USD) lighter after his headline-grabbing altercation with two minors Saturday.
Van der Poel was charged by local courts Monday after he confronted two teenage girls that were knocking at his hotel room door through the early hours of Sunday morning ahead of his push for road race gold at the world championships.
“His partner was in tears and he himself was very disappointed with the result,” Van der Poel’s lawyer Michael Bowe told NOS. “He told me that he feels like he has disappointed his country and his team.”
Van der Poel went to bed Saturday night as a five-star favorite for Sunday’s road world championships. However, overnight events left the Dutch captain out of sleep and out of the Wollongong race after less than an hour of racing.
Van der Poel is reported to have pushed the two teens, knocking one to the ground and the other to the wall, where she hurt her elbow. The 27-year-old was arrested and only released at 4 a.m.
“It’s true, yes. There was a small dispute. It was about noisy neighbors and they are quite strict here,” Van der Poel told Sporza at the start of the road race. “I went to bed early and many children in the hallway of my room found it necessary to knock on the door continuously.”
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Van der Poel was initially granted bail on the condition of appearing in court Tuesday, but the case was expedited within 24 hours.
He was fined, cleared to return home, and had his passport returned. The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider is already scheduled to take the long flight home later Monday.
Van der Poel denied pushing the children and his lawyer indicated that he would appeal the local court’s ruling. He was handed a $1,000AU fine for pushing one girl and $500 for pushing the other.
“Many of us would do the same. Under pressure to perform. And everyone makes mistakes,” lawyer Bowe said of his client’s actions.
NOS reports that officials took a heavy view on Van der Poel’s decision to take the law into his own hands.
Dutch team chief Koos Moerenhout was also scratching his head at Van der Poel’s thought process. Moerenhout told NOS his rider only reported the incident to him after he confronted girls and hotel security was alterted.
“Mathieu told us when the damage had already been done. If we knew, we would have arranged something,” Moerenhout said.