Mathieu van der Poel spits at booing spectators on way to Hulst World Cup win

'These were not things that belong in sport' world champion says after incident caught on camera

Clock15:48, Saturday 30th December 2023
Mathieu van der Poel faced booing from spectators at his home World Cup in Hulst

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Mathieu van der Poel faced booing from spectators at his home World Cup in Hulst

Mathieu van der Poel has expressed his dismay at booing spectators after he was seen spitting at the crowd in Hulst on his way to a UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup victory.

Riding in his home nation of the Netherlands for the first time this season, the world champion’s win in Hulst should have been a big home victory, but was instead marred by an incident that saw him spit at a group of fans on the final lap.

Asked about the incident after the race, Van der Poel said the spectators had been booing at him throughout the day, including during his warm-up laps. The Dutchman was reportedly also booed during the previous World Cup round in Hulst.

“They were just a bunch of booers. I'm done with that,” he said at the finish, using the Dutch term ‘boeroepers’.

“It was continuous, during the recon already. It’s better to stay at home.”

Asked what the spectators were saying, Van der Poel declined to comment on the nature of the comments made.

“It's better to ask them yourself. I'm not going to repeat that. These were not things that belong in sport. Booing is not appropriate for anyone,” he said. “After a while it was enough, also for me.”

No sanction has yet been made against Van der Poel, but it possible he could receive a fine. Under section 5.6.001 of the UCI’s cyclo-cross regulations, item 17 prohibits “insults, threats, inappropriate behaviour” with infringements carrying a 50 to 200 CHF fine in World Cup events.

Tom Pidcock was also shown headbutting a fellow rider in an attempt to get past him, as the Brit tried to recover his race after crashing and damaging his bike in the very first corner.

Despite the incident, Van der Poel soloed to the win in Hulst, racking up his seventh victory in a season which is yet to see him beaten. He will race again in Baal on Monday.

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