Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel, who pleaded guilty to common assault of two teenaged girls before the world championship road race in September, had his convictions and fine overturned by a judge in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on appeal.
The 27-year-old had been charged with two counts of common assault after a confrontation with the girls — aged 13 and 14 — who he said had repeatedly knocked on his door and then run away. He was convicted and fined A$1,500 ($1,014).
New South Wales police said one teenager fell to the ground while the other suffered a minor graze to her elbow after being pushed into a wall.
Tour de France stage winner Van der Poel, who was arrested and released, dropped out of the race in the coastal New South Wales city of Wollongong after 30 of the 267 kilometres.
Judge Ian Bourke SC said on Tuesday that Van der Poel’s actions had been in “response to annoying and invasive conduct” by the girls and deemed their actions to be a “significant degree of provocation,” Australian media reported.
Speaking to NCA NewsWire, Van der Poel’s lawyer Michael Bowe said he was satisfied with the outcome.
“He [Van der Poel] didn’t need a conviction, he’s a dedicated sportsman and cyclist,” Bowe said. “It’s really important these matters were dismissed.”
In separate comments to broadcaster ABC, Bowe said: “I ran the argument on the basis of loss to Mathieu — he had one opportunity in his life to win the World Championships and he’d lost that opportunity.
“He’d trained for that opportunity. He’d let his country down, he’d let his team down.”
Despite the quashing of his convictions, ABC reported that Van der Poel must still serve a 12-month conditional release order. This means he must not commit any offence and appear before the court if called upon during that period.