Cycling star pleads guilty to assaulting teenage girls on eve of big race – Reuters

Mathieu van der Poel admitted to molesting teenage girls who bothered him before the world championships

Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel has admitted assaulting two teenage girls who he says repeatedly bothered him in the hallway outside his hotel room the day before his World Championships appearance.

The 27-year-old was stopped before Sunday’s drive just outside Sydney, Australia, where he was among the favorites to claim the top spot.

Van der Poel allegedly grabbed one girl’s arm and pushed the other against a wall after claiming they repeatedly knocked on his hotel room door and fled when he answered.

One girl reportedly fell and the other bumped her elbow against a wall causing a minor scrape at Brighton-Le-Sands Hotel. They would have been 14 and 13 years old.

« After a few times I’m done with it“, he said, quoted by the Belgian publication Sporza.

« I didn’t ask so nicely to stop. Then the police were called and I was taken away.”

He pleaded guilty to charges relating to the incident at Sutherland Local Court on Monday and was ordered to pay fines totaling 1,500 Australian dollars (966 US dollars).

« He [Van der Poel] admits he treated him inappropriately, but there’s an explanation anyway“said his lawyer Michael Bowe.

« We went over the relevant events that happened, he was arrested by the police, was questioned by the police and said certain things to the police. Mathieu agreed with some of these allegations. In discussion, it was agreed that he should plead guilty.

« The damage he suffered is enormous. He feels like he’s let down his whole country and his whole team.”

He was supposed to lead the Dutch team in the long distance race but pulled out after just 30km.

Van der Poel flew out of the country on Monday evening local time after collecting his passport from authorities and satisfying bail conditions.

His attorney, however, is due to file an appeal on Tuesday in which he will seek to overturn the convictions.

Van der Poel is considered one of the best cyclists of his generation. He won stages in the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, and represented the Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics.

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