Father in hotel incident with Mathieu van der Poel says rider went too far
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Australian media The Daily Mail Australia interviewed both fathers of four teenage girls from two families involved in the high-profile incident in an Australian hotel just hours before Van der Poel was set to race the elite men’s road race in Wollongong.
One father of two of the teenage girls, identified as “Emad,” admitted the teenagers were out of line, but told The Daily Mail Australia that Van der Poel also reacted too strongly.
“He’s got every right to get angry, but not to do what he did. They’re tiny little girls, and he’s massive,” he told told The Daily Mail Australia.
“But they did get in trouble. They are in trouble,” the father said of his daughters. “Look, I did things when I was their age, but the younger one had COVID only a few weeks ago and this was their time out. They were excited … but then they were a bit naughty. My wife’s angry that he’s fled the country as well as what he did.”
The incident made headlines across the globe, and Van der Poel apologized for his actions upon his return to Europe on Tuesday, but was adamant that he did not want to hurt the girls. He was fined $1,000 and a court ordered that he cannot return to Australia for three years.
His Alpecin-Deceuninck team released a statement Tuesday saying the team will “follow up in an appropriate way.”
Videos and court documents revealed more details about the bizarre incident involving the Alpecin-Deceuninck superstar who was among the pre-race favorites for the race eventually won by Remco Evenepoel.
According to police interviews, two families with their four children were sharing two rooms at a Sydney hotel that were directly across from Van der Poel’s room.
Neither father attended the weekend getaway, and after dinner, the two mothers retreated to one of the rooms while the teenage girls went to the accompanying room.
Police said that the teenage girls started a prank of “knock-and-run” on Saturday evening on a room that they were unaware that Van der Poel was sharing with his girlfriend.
Police say that Van der Poel’s girlfriend asked the girls to stop knocking on their door.
The next time they knocked, videos reveal that Van der Poel charged out of the room wearing only a pair of black underwear and confronted the teenage girls.
The newspaper interviewed the other father, identified only as “John,” who said people are accusing him of being a bad father.
“If I assaulted children, I’d be locked up in jail for a year because I can’t afford bail,” the father told The Daily Mail Australia. “Child abuse is a big thing.”
The father also told the paper his daughter has been “having nightmares” about the incident that saw Van der Poel detained by police and only released at 4 a.m. just hours before he started and then quickly abandoned the elite men’s road race.
“We went to the hospital on Sunday and I’m taking her to the psychologist because she’s scared,” the father told The Daily Mail Australia. “She’s worried she’s in trouble and has done something wrong because some people are blaming her and me, saying it was the girls’ fault and I’m a bad parent, but it was the school holidays. What kids at that age are going to bed at nine o’clock?”