Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel was arrested in Sydney and charged with assault after an altercation with two teenagers on the eve of the world championship road race on Saturday night.
The Tour de France stage winner, who was one of the favourites to win Sunday’s race in the coastal New South Wales city of Wollongong, subsequently dropped out after just 30 of the 267 kilometres.
“I went to bed early and many children in the hallway of my room found it necessary to knock on the door continuously,” the rider told Belgium’s state-funded sports website Sporza before the start of the race.
“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 4 o’clock. That’s certainly not ideal. It’s a disaster, but I can’t change anything anymore.”
New South Wales police confirmed the arrest at the Grand Parade hotel in the beachside suburb of Brighton-Le-Sands just south of Sydney’s main airport on Saturday night. “He was allegedly involved in a verbal altercation with two teenage girls – aged 13 and 14,” read a statement.
“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.
“Hotel management were notified of the incident who then called police.”
The police said the 27-year-old had been charged with two counts of common assault and bailed to appear at a local court in Sutherland on Tuesday.