Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel expressed regret on Tuesday after his world championships in Australia were scuppered by a late night altercation with pranksters landed him in a police station.
Van der Poel was charged with two counts of common assault after confronting two teenaged girls interrupting his sleep on the eve of Sunday’s elite road race by knocking repeatedly on his hotel door.
Arrested and taken to a police station until 4 a.m., the 27-year-old, one of the favourites to take the world title, started the race only to retire in the early stages.
Police allege the cyclist chased the girls into their room and confronted them.
He pleaded guilty in court on Monday to two counts of common assault and was fined Aus$1,500 (US$1,000).
On his return to Europe he commented: “Of course I regret it. I’m wrong too, I admit that.
“I try to put it behind me.
“Now I’m going home for a while, looking for peace. In any case, I am very happy to be back in the country.”
A video of the incident taken by the girls shows a man believed to be Van der Poel bursting out of his hotel room as they filmed themselves knocking on his door.
“I should have informed the reception or someone else anyway. But it was getting late and I just wanted to sleep. I thought I could solve it myself,” he explained.
“In the end it turned out completely wrong. Unfortunately I can’t change it anymore,” said the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider.
“There are a lot of stories about pushing, but that is absolutely not true. That’s not what happened.
“There are two versions of a story and when you are in Australia it is very difficult to deal with.”
Christoph Roodhooft, a director of his Alpecin-Deceuninck team, said the rider was shattered by the incident.
In his absence, Belgian ace Remco Evenepoel stormed to victory with a spectacular solo ride to claim the rainbow jersey.