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Alpecin-Deceuninck team boss Christoph Roodhooft told media that Mathieu van der Poel was left “mentally broken” after being arrested ahead of the elite men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong, Australia.
The Dutch rider was detained and then released on bail following an incident outside his hotel room the night before the race. He has since been charged with two counts of common assault after he reportedly pushed two teenagers in the altercation.
The pre-race worlds favorite started the men’s race, but abandoned with 230km to go. Van der Poel has denied the charges.
“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.”
“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 four o’clock.”
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Team boss Roodhooft was at the race and spoke to the gathering media after Van der Poel abandoned the road race.
“It was really unexpected. Obviously there were children knocking at his door and after the third he was pissed off with them. He went out and it seemed like it was children, teenagers, and someone called the police and they asked him to go to the office to give an explanation,” he said.
“He was asked by the police to tell them what happened, then he could sign [papers] and then he could go. There were children in the corridor playing and he went out to ask them to stop, but obviously not in the right way.”
Van der Poel came into the race as one of the main favorites, but with his preparation knocked off course, Roodhooft said the rider had been hugely affected. After speaking to Van der Poel, the team boss added:
“We didn’t talk about the situation but sporting wise he was really disappointed. He didn’t sleep all night and mentally he was a bit broken. He was expecting a lot from today and he did everything he could in the last two months after his bad Tour de France. He found joy and happiness again in cycling and was hoping for a nice race again.”