Top cyclist Mathieu van der Poel had been one of the favorites to win Sunday's world championship race in Wollongong, Australia. Instead of that, he ended up flying home to the Netherlands with a criminal conviction under his belt, reports the Guardian. It seems that a group of kids kept knocking on his hotel room door Saturday night as a prank, and the 27-year-old van der Poel admits that he lost his temper, per the Daily Beast. Police in New South Wales say the Dutch cyclist first got into a verbal confrontation with two girls, ages 13 and 14.
"It's further alleged the man then pushed both teenagers, with one falling to the ground and the other being pushed into a wall, causing a minor graze to her elbow," per a police statement provided to Cyclingnews. The Hindustan Times notes the girls' father notified police, who charged the cyclist with two counts of common assault. Van der Poel, who actually started Sunday's race but dropped out after only about an hour, pleaded guilty and has since flown home.
In an interview with the Belgian outlet Sporza, van der Poel gave his version of events. "I went to bed early and many children in the hallway ... found it necessary to knock on the door continuously," he says, as translated at the Daily Beast. "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." It's "a disaster," he added. Attorney Michael Bowe says the cyclist plans to appeal, adding, "He feels like he's let his whole country down and his whole team," per the Guardian. (Read more cyclist stories.)