Koksijde Cyclocross race this week will have a boosted police presence to try to stop unruly fans from repeating the attacks on Mathieu van der Poel that marred the World Cup event in Hulst on December 30th.
En route to one of his multiple recent crushing cyclocross victories this season the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider had urine and beer thrown at him by a small group of spectators, with Van der Poel earning a 250 euro fine after he spat back at his course-side assailants.
Following the incidents, Koksijde organiser Jan Deramoudt promised to step up policing of his X20 series race, where roughly 10,000 fans are expected to watch Van der Poel, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) headline the elite men’s event.
On top of that, “if riders are confronted during their recons by people who boo or insult them or who throw beer and urine, they can warn us,” Deramoudt told Nieuwsblad newspaper.
“We are in direct contact with the police, who will make extra efforts to prevent so-called supporters from disturbing or hindering the participants.”
Police drones and additional plainclothes police offices will likely also be used, Deramoudt told the newspaper. The switch in focus from usual security concerns like potential fights brewing in the beer tents or overenthusiastic drinkers was, Deramoudt said, “a response to the current situation.”
“It is our duty as an organization to take care of both the public and the riders. Everyone should be able to experience cross-country in a fun and safe way: whether you are supporting, working or cycling.”
The beefed-up police response drew thanks both from Adrie van der Poel, Mathieu’s father, as well as another former top racer, Sven Nys, whose son Thibau is also down to race on Thursday.
“This is about taking steps against the negative behaviour of what is – thankfully – only a small number of people,” Nys told Nieuwsblad.