Riders who are confronted with unruly fans–like those who pelt them with cups of beer and urine, will be able to notify the police in upcoming pro ‘cross races in Belgium. Jan Deramoudt, who coordinates the Vlaamse Duinencross for the organizing municipality of Koksijde confirmed the news in a report in Het Nieuwsblad.
“We are in direct contact with the police, who will make extra efforts this edition of the Duinencross to prevent so-called supporters from disturbing or hindering the participants.” According to him, additional efforts are likely to involve the utilization of police drones and, in any event, the deployment of extra plainclothes police officers. The command post closely monitors the television camera footage, even though the procession cannot be currently followed live on television.
In the past, the police have patrolled among the over ten thousand cross enthusiasts along the route. However, the focus of these patrols has predominantly been on incidents involving individuals who may have had a bit too much hooch and were having fights or confrontations instead of enjoying the festivities in the beer tents.
“In the long history of the Koksijde race we have never before had to intervene for people who hindered the riders.” Deramoudt added.
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The police response follows an incident at the World Cup cross in Hulst, the Netherlands, on Dec. 30 where eventual winner Mathieu van der Poel was attacked by a group of supporters.
They not only insulted him, but also threw beer and urine at him. Eventually, the world champion became so frustrated he spat at them.
“What happened? Nothing. Just a bunch of booers. It was the whole race. It already started during the warm-up. I’m done with it. If you do, you better stay home. I’m done with all the booing,” He explained after the race. “What did they shout? You better ask them yourself. I’m not going to repeat that here. These are certainly not things that belong in sports. There shouldn’t be any boos for anyone. After a while, it’s enough, even for me.”
Former world champion Adrie van der Poel, father of Mathieu, welcomes the initiative for the sandy race in Koksijde. He said the extra efforts makes for “a fantastic initiative.” However, he wished they weren’t necessary.
“It is deeply sad and a shame that the organization has to bring in extra people…