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This unfortunate incident has now convinced Felipe Nystrom he doesn’t belong in European cyclocross, which is a massive shame and hopefully he will have a change of heart

Felipe Nystrom, the Costa Rican rider involved in a race incident with Mathieu van der Poel at the UCI World Cup in Gavere, has said he feels awful about what happened and will go home early as a result.

While he planned to continue riding the cyclocross scene until after the World Championships, Nystrom now says he feels he has let himself down and doesn’t deserve to be riding major international races.

However, world champion Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) has said every rider makes mistakes and that 41-year-old Nystrom should not give up on his European cyclocross dream. The Dutch rider brushed off the incident, saying such things happen in cycling and he felt no anger over it.

“Mathieu had to push me, it should have been even harder,” Nystrom told Belgian media outlet, Sporza. “I was in the way and I feel really bad about it. I feel terrible. It was 1,000 percent my fault what happened there. I am concerned that Mathieu may receive hate messages.”

The incident occurred on the third lap of seven, when van der Poel was leading solo and about to lap the Costa Rican rider, Nystrom. As van der Poel was passing him, Nystrom seemed to have been sharing a joke with some spectators and stepped to his right, and into the path of the passing van der Poel.

He put out his right hand and shoved Nystrom, though simply to stay upright and not lose momentum, rather than acting with any malice. And while Van der Poel seems to have taken it in his stride, Nystrom has taken the incident to heart and blames himself.

“Some people tell me I’m stupid, but others say Van der Poel was mean and didn’t have to push me,” he told Sporza. “It’s horrible that he would experience a negative impact because of a situation I put him in. I wish I could look Mathieu in the eye and tell him how sorry I am.”

And, sadly, he said he would not cut short his trip to Europe and return to Costa Rica, saying he did not feel he could continue racing this winter after the incident to van der Poel.

“I’m leaving next week, my mistake is too big,” he said. “After Hulst I will stop. I don’t really deserve to be here. I had a dream and achieved it, but my mistake on Tuesday is too big for me to continue,” he said.

“Normally I had the resources to continue until the world championships. But now I’m leaving next week. I have to bear the consequences of my actions. I have disappointed people.”

For his part, Van der Poel said: “I wasn’t mad at him. Felipe has made an error in judgment and that can happen. Everyone makes a mistake sometimes.

He should certainly not give up his dream for that. I hope he stays here and continues to complete his planned program.

“I know Felipe Nystrom’s story and have sympathy for him. Yesterday he gave me a fright. I initially thought he had pulled over to let me through, until he suddenly wanted to leave when I was at the same height. I pushed him to keep myself straight and not get his bike in my face.”

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