Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

Mathieu van der Poel spits at “booing” spectator on way to 7th straight win (+ video)

Incident overshadows extension of winning streak – but world champ says he’s had enough of the boos (and worse?)

Mathieu van der Poel today took his seventh straight win of the cyclo-cross season at the UCI World Cup in Hulst, the Netherlands – but the world champion’s victory was overshadowed by his being caught on TV cameras spitting at spectators during the race.

Speaking immediately afterwards, he said that he has had enough of being booed during races, as has happened a number of times recently, including at races in recent days in Gavere and Diegem, both in Belgium.

The 28-year-old also reposted a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that suggested he may also have had urine thrown at him during today’s race.

According to van der Poel, the spectator he targeted had been exhibiting “unsportsmanlike behaviour” even before the race began.

“I’ve been dealing with that all year and I was tired of it,” he said.

He would not repeat the abusive words the so-called fan directed at him.

“But,” he said, “it did ruin the atmosphere a bit. I'm fine with the fact that you're not for me. But I'm not okay with booing.

“I’m a bit fed up with being booed every week,” he added. “I don't think it's worth it.” said Van der Poel.

Van der Poel went clear on the third of the eight laps today to take yet another commanding victory, the spitting incident happening on the final lap.

Any hopes among the 23,000 fans who packed into the venue in Zeeland that the race might produce a showdown between the ‘Big 3’ of the men’s side of the sport were quashed early on.

British rider Tom Pidcock’s hopes of victory ended after a crash on the first corner that broke his rear mech, and the 2022 world champion eventually finished in 25th place, while Belgian rider Wout van Aert, a three-time world champion in the discipline, also succumbed to a mechanical problem on the second lap of the race.

Earlier, van der Poel had made quite the entrance, rocking up in his sports car with his partner and happily posing for selfies with fans who, it’s safe to assume, weren’t among those giving him abuse today.

There is no word as yet on whether world cycling’s governing body, the UCI, which of course owns the competition, will take any action against him following today’s incident.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment

22 comments

Avatar
dubwise | 3 months ago
0 likes

Hey road.cc nothing to say about Pidcock?

Ripping his rear mech off in anger then headbutting, several times, to get a rider out of his way.

Excellent look there Tom.

Avatar
marleychaplin@h... replied to dubwise | 3 months ago
1 like

A bit strong to call it headbutting ,a faint heart never won a race .

Avatar
Simon E replied to marleychaplin@hotmail.com | 3 months ago
2 likes
marleychaplin@h... wrote:

A bit strong to call it headbutting ,a faint heart never won a race .

2 or 3 headbutts, admittedly weedy ones, whether you want to admit it or not.

Pidcock has the power and skill to get past cleanly but was impatient, and impudent. He's a bit of a knob really but we're not supposed to say that 'cause he's the golden boy.

Disappointed with MvdP, though I read that he also claimed they had thrown beer and urine at him. Spitting at people is not cool. And I couldn't GAF about his car but so many gullible people are impressed by a trashy, flashy penis extension. I guess it's more 'newsworthy' than the race itself.

Avatar
ErnieC replied to marleychaplin@hotmail.com | 3 months ago
0 likes
marleychaplin [at] hotmail.com wrote:

A bit strong to call it headbutting ,a faint heart never won a race .

that apply to all riders? I recall someone getting all kinds of flak not so long ago for pushing a selfie taking competitor out the way. 

Avatar
don simon fbpe replied to dubwise | 3 months ago
1 like

It's a story about the abuse received by MvdP, not a race report.

Avatar
dubwise replied to don simon fbpe | 3 months ago
1 like

Where's the race report then?

Avatar
LookAhead replied to dubwise | 3 months ago
0 likes
dubwise wrote:

Where's the race report then?

And while we're at it, road.cc, where is your coverage of the recent World Rapid Chess Championship! I'm interested in that, so how dare you not cover it? (And, no, I don't just want to go to one of the sites that actually cover that sort of thing, thank you very much.)

Avatar
don simon fbpe replied to dubwise | 3 months ago
0 likes

I've had a look in the MvdP spitting article and it's not there, I've had a look at the bizarre Rohan Dennis (innocent until proven guilty) article and it's not there, I've had a look in a couple of the review articles and it's not there. Have you thought about asking where the article is instead just wanting a Pidcock write up in a MvdP article?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to dubwise | 3 months ago
1 like

Just saw the video of the mechanical, he did not "rip his rear mech off in anger", he put the chain back on and tried to ride off, found the rear mech was obviously stuck in the wheel having been bent in the crash, tried to pull it out and the derailleur hanger snapped, as it's designed to do. He was just trying to fix his bike.

The "headbutting" a little more dubious but you see it a lot, really just leaning the head on the opponent's shoulder in a push rather than a real headbutt. Not a good visual perhaps but if he'd done the same thing with a shoulder it wouldn't be mentioned.

Avatar
dubwise replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
1 like

Ah the golden boy can do no wrong, eh?

Found out today and stomped off in a huff, tells you all about him.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to dubwise | 3 months ago
0 likes
dubwise wrote:

Ah the golden boy can do no wrong, eh?

He's not a golden boy to me, although I admire him, I am simply pointing out the truth which is self evident to anyone who looks at the video that he attempted to pull his broken derailleur out of the wheel and in doing so the derailleur hanger snapped. By all means berate him if you wish to when he does something wrong, but not when he clearly wasn't doing what you accuse him of.

Avatar
AidanR | 3 months ago
1 like

He's really not helping himself. Whatever the provocation, reacting in such a manner is only going to make things worse.

Avatar
Destroyer666 replied to AidanR | 3 months ago
3 likes

I Doubt it. And more importantly he sent a clear message to the bully.

Avatar
Matt Page replied to Destroyer666 | 3 months ago
3 likes

Cross in Belgium and The Netherlands is a social sport and not just a fan sport. People go there to drink, and not simply to watch the racing. It is similar in some ways to football in the UK.

For the majority going to watch is a fun day out, but there are always a few that go too far. Perhaps this incident will help raise the profile of the issues faced, and maybe some steps can be taken to improve safety for the riders and spectator conduct.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Matt Page | 3 months ago
2 likes

My sympathy initially was with MVDP until I read that he spat at the fans "for booing," in which case it's a massive and disgusting overreaction. Fans have their heroes and villains and some will always express that, if all they do is boo it's not much of an issue and certainly no threat to rider safety. Imagine if it was a Premiership football match and a player spat at fans for booing them, they'd be faced with massive condemnation, a very long ban and probable police action; spitting at someone is a criminal assault offence in the UK and I imagine the Netherlands have a similar law. Even if the "fans" were throwing beer or worse (why didn't he mention that originally if so, only mentioning the booing?) then he could have dealt with it very differently. preferably by getting off his bike, refusing to race and pointing out to the authorities who was responsible.

I'm a big fan of MVDP the racer, it's becoming increasingly clear that MVDP the man has a petulant, immature and aggressive side to him that he needs to learn to control.

Avatar
stonojnr replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
1 like

there was definitely liquid of some sort chucked at him several times, because it was highlighted during the live commentary of the race, and the commentators seemed fairly sure of the source

We all know these events with the beer tent in full flow, the crowd can get lairy, and they were far from being respectful of the race taking place and its not the first race this season its been like that, there were also reports some section of crowd pushed a bunch of race photographers in the lake which wrecked their cameras, though some have also claimed they just fell in.

Whether gobbing back at someone being unruly towards you is the best way to deal with it, probably not, but what else can he do,stop ask the guy to meet him in the car park later ?

and if he quits mid race, thats kind of what the bullies want, him to quit so their guy can beat him, however hollow their victory would be.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to stonojnr | 3 months ago
0 likes

Well, seems very odd that if someone was throwing beer and/or piss at him the only thing he would choose to mention intially to justify his spitting was that he was being booed.

If he quit just once in protest that would have a massive effect on how seriously organisers took crowd control. He could also use his position to organise other riders and put pressure on the UCI and race organisations to take action.

I fully accept that he was treated badly and must have been angry but spitting at people in any circumstances is disgusting and counts as assault. It's inexcusable from anybody but especially from a world champion who does, pompous as it may sound, have a duty to help uphold the standards and image of the sport.

Avatar
don simon fbpe replied to Matt Page | 3 months ago
2 likes

This. Sections of the town can be fenced off and bars open all day. People are involved in the race whether they are fans or not, and the beer flows.

It would be a shame that a few idiots affect what is a very accessible sport and a very enjoyable, for the vast majority, day out.

I am torn on the MvdP reaction, but I have never had the day job scrutinised by so many people and been open to critisism by so many "experts", I'm not sure what my breaking point would be. He is in the public eye, but he is still a human being who's just doing his job. The public and press must respect this.

Avatar
AidanR replied to Destroyer666 | 3 months ago
3 likes

Sure, they definitely won't do it again now they've got a rise out of him 🙄

Avatar
Destroyer666 replied to AidanR | 3 months ago
0 likes

Since you seem to know how everything will pan out in the future, how about using your skills for something useful like telling me the correct numbers for the next lottery round?

Avatar
AidanR replied to Destroyer666 | 3 months ago
0 likes

Seeing as you've asked so nicely...

Avatar
HarrogateSpa replied to Destroyer666 | 3 months ago
1 like

Eric Cantona also sent a clear message to a bully with his karate kick attack, but it wasn't ok.

You can understand why these things happen without condoning them. Spitting at spectators is worth a ban whatever the provocation. You just can't do it.

Latest Comments