There was a controversial moment during the UCI World Cup round in Gavere on Dec. 26, when Mathieu van der Poel had to shove Costa Rican rider, Felipe Nystrom, out of the way. When he was being lapped by the world champion, Nystrom paused for a selfie with a fan. He then inadvertently stepped in front of van der Poel, resulting in a forceful shove that pushed him back into the barriers.
The incident drew criticism for both riders from several analysts, but in the eyes of many, the responsibility lay squarely with Nystrom. As a rider about to be lapped, he should have been aware of MvdP approaching and gotten out of the way. Sporza contacted Nystrom after the race, who said he felt incredibly guilty for his actions.
“I feel terrible,” he said. “It was 1,000 percent my fault what happened there. Mathieu had to push me. It should have been even harder. I was in the way, and I feel really bad about it.”
Nystrom is now worried that the Dutchman may face negative reactions from the public for his reaction.
“I’m worried about the fact that Mathieu might get hate mail,” he said. “Some people tell me I’m stupid, but others say Van der Poel was mean and didn’t have to push me. 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 say how sorry I am.” Following the race, Nystrom even made the decision to end his season early.
“I don’t really deserve to be here,” he said. “I had a dream and I achieved it, but my mistake on Tuesday is too big for me to continue. Normally, I had the means to continue until the world championships. But now I’m just going to leave next week. I have to bear the consequences of my actions; I have disappointed people.”
Van der Poel has also commented on the incident, and he hopes that Nystrom finishes his season–despite his erratic riding. “I know the story of Felipe Nystrom, and I have sympathy for him,” Van der Poel said. (Nystrom overcame addiction and mental health issues to become the national champion of Costa Rica.) “Yesterday, however, he scared me. At first, I thought he had pulled over to let me through, until he suddenly wanted to leave when I was at the same height. I pushed to keep myself straight and not get his bike in my face.”
The 27-year-old says that there are no hard feelings between the two. “I read that he’s apologizing,…