Elite Dutch cyclist ‘devastated’ accused of assaulting two teenage girls in Australian hotel before world championship race – as he breaks his silence
Dutch cyclist Matthew van der Poel has withdrawn from a world championship race after he was accused of assaulting two teenage girls in Wollongong, NSW. The 27-year-old, speaking for the first time since being in Australia for the UCI Road World Championships, said he was ‘shattered’ and ‘a bit mentally broken’.
The Dutch cycling star who sensationally withdrew from a world championship road race has broken his silence for the first time after being accused of assaulting two teenage girls.
Mathieu van der Poel, 27, who won a stage at the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, is ‘torn apart’ over alleged incidents with girls aged 13 and 14, according to his Team Alpesin-Deseuinink boss, Christoph Roodehuft.
“He didn’t sleep all night and was a little bit broken,” Rudhuft told reporters.
‘He was looking forward to this day (the race) and has done everything he can in the last two months after his bad Tour de France.
‘He has found joy and happiness in cycling again and hopes to have a great race today.’
He was arrested hours before the race and will face court after being charged, where he is one of the title favorites 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 girls, aged 13 and 14, at the Novotel in Brighton Le Sands on Saturday evening as they played a knock-and-run prank on his door as they tried to get some sleep before the race. .
Matthew van der Poel (pictured with his girlfriend Roxanne Bartels) will go on trial at Sutherland Local Court accused of assaulting two girls aged 13 and 14.
Police will allege two teenage girls were playing ‘knock and run’ at the Brighton Le Sands Novotel (above) when a cyclist hit the two girls, causing one to fall.
Officers from Sydney’s St George Command seized van der Poel’s passport before he appeared in Sutherland Court on September 27, after being charged with two counts of assaulting a child.
The rider, who did not leave police custody until 4 a.m., withdrew an hour into the run from exhaustion.
He told Belgian website Sporza before the start of the race, ‘I went to bed early and a lot of children in the hallway of my house felt the need to keep knocking on the door.
‘After a few times I was done. I didn’t ask to stop so nicely. Then the police were called and I was taken away.
‘I didn’t get back to my room until 4 o’clock. This is definitely not ideal. It’s a disaster, but I can’t change anything.’
NSW Police will allege van der Poel pushed the two girls, causing one to fall and the other to hit a wall suffering a small graze on her elbow.
“The hotel management was informed of the incident, who then called the police,” a NSW Police spokesperson said in a statement.
‘Officers from the St George Police Area Command attended and arrested a 27-year-old man a short time later.’
Van der Poel ‘had a mental breakdown’ after being accused of assaulting two young teenagers and then withdrew from the race due to exhaustion following his arrest.
Matthew van der Poel of the Netherlands crosses the Sea Cliff Bridge during the elite men’s road race at the World Road Cycling Championships in Wollongong, Australia, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.
Matthew van der Poel (pictured with his girlfriend Roxanne Bartels) has been accused of 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 watched the race, but retired from it at around 11 p.m.
He was released on bail and listed to appear at Sutherland Local Court before Magistrate Hugh Donnelly.
The four-time cyclo-cross world champion and 2013 road race junior world champion was one of the favorites to win the rainbow jersey.