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Richard Groenendael just about to get wild at Diegem back in 2001, punching one spectator and squaring up to another

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) may have won the Hulst round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in the Netherlands yesterday but his victory was overshadowed by a spitting incident on the final lap.

He lost his cool with spectators and directed his fury in their direction, earning himself a fine in the process for spitting towards a section of the crowd as he came in to take the chequered flag.

Reports later emerged in the European media that urine and beer had been thrown at the world champion. Photographers were also shoved into a body of water by spectators angry at the journalists blocking their view.

While Van der Poel blamed the spectators in question, it was a low point for him. However, it was not the only time top cyclocross riders have lost their cool with spectators down the years, as these three examples reveal.

Sven Nys, Beer Throw and Chase | Loenhout 2012

After suffering several mechanicals in very muddy conditions, cyclocross legend Nys on the final lap had had enough of being pelted with beer as he passed the same spot on the circuit. On the final lap, he effectively abandoned the race and dived into the crowd to pursue a spectator who had just thrown beer at him.

“I could continue my pursuit, but I had had enough,” Nys said at the time. “I had planned it in advance. If he throws it in the seventh lap, I’m not going to go quietly,” he added of the fan he was determined to pursue, and managed to catch up with.

“I asked him, ‘Why? Does this make sense?’ He apologised. But nothing more than ‘sorry’ came. He was obviously pretty drunk. I did not get aggressive. Throwing beer is low-down and does not belong in cross. We are not animals. After the seventh time I was tired. Everyone deserves a little respect.”

Bart Wellens, Karate Kid | Overijse 2005

In 2005, at Vlaamse Druivenveldrit Overijse, Wellens lost his cool at a spectator who was allegedly dousing him with beer as he raced past. He eventually threw a kick at him and went on to win the race.

However, the result stood on the day after Wellens was initially disqualified but then spoke to the race jury and was reinstated as winner. But the UCI then took action and penalised Wellens. His win passed to Lars Boom and Wellens was also suspended from racing for the first month of the following season.

“That kick only lasted a fraction of a second, but the incident has haunted my mind in recent days,” Wellens said in the days after the incident. “I can manage training. And laughing too, although it was often…. When I hear all that lawyer talk about what could hang over my head, it’s a bit of a shock. That guy was also at fault, wasn’t he? If he takes some of the blame, maybe he can do me a favor.”

Richard Groenendael, Punch | Diegem, 2001

In 2002, Dutch champion Richard Groenendaal said he was being “cursed” by spectators at Superprestige Diegem and snapped as it was the latest in a series of such incidents. He stopped and threw a punch at one spectator before grabbing his bike again and squaring up to another fan. The incident resulted in his disqualification.

“I know this shouldn’t have happened, but it was too much for me,” Groenendaal said. “This has been going on for weeks. If you are constantly in the lead and get good results, you laugh about it. But now that everything is going wrong, it is difficult to let the insults wash over you. It’s been getting worse lately, it was just too much for me. That blow was a human response.”

#Cyclocross #riders #chased #punched #kicked #spectators #Video

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