Police want to track down beer throwers at Oude Kwaremont, but that is “not an obvious task”

Police want to track down beer throwers at Oude Kwaremont, but that is “not an obvious task”
Police want to track down beer throwers at Oude Kwaremont, but that is “not an obvious task”

Mathieu van der Poel, who won his 3rd Tour of Flanders on Sunday, had several pints thrown over him at the Oude Kwaremont by spectators, who, according to bystanders, were drunk Wout van Aert fans. After his victory, the Dutchman himself spoke somewhat laconically about “some downpours” that he had to deal with.

Nevertheless, there was great disapproval among commentators, race enthusiasts and television viewers. And the police don’t leave it at that either. “We have effectively started an investigation,” said Joost Duhamel, chief of police of the Flemish Ardennes police zone. “Although it will not be obvious, we will try to identify the beer throwers, after which we will draw up an official report for the most serious possible classification of these facts, namely assault and battery.”

Crowds of people

The fact that it is not obvious has to do with the enormous crowds of people along the Oude Kwaremont on Sunday. Some counts speak of at least 40,000 spectators, many of whom were drinking water.

“Although there are camera images showing beer being thrown at Van der Poel, it is anything but clear from those images who exactly threw the beer,” police circles say.

Chief of Police Duhamel also realizes that it will not be an easy task. “But we understand the commotion. This does not show respect. Therefore, see this investigation as a signal to the community: we don’t want any beer throwers, not now, not later. If we can identify beer throwers, we will always draw up a report.”

Race organizer Flanders Classics is also fed up with the rowdy, unsportsmanlike behavior of some spectators. If the beer throwers are identified, “we will file civil proceedings,” said CEO Tomas Van Den Spiegel. The organization can then claim compensation in court.

Also spat on

The same thing happened during the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad a few weeks ago when Dutch cyclist Marianne Vos passed the iconic Wall in Geraardsbergen. She was thrown a full cup of drink in the face by a spectator. Officers from the Geraardsbergen/Lierde police zone were now able to identify the perpetrator – there were very clear camera images of this incident. A report has been drawn up against this person for assault and battery.

It is now the public prosecutor’s office that will decide “what criminal consequences this will have,” according to the East Flemish police force. The crime of assault and battery can be punished with a fine of up to several hundred euros, and if necessary even a prison sentence, which is admittedly very unlikely in this case.

But the Geraardsbergen police also wanted to send the signal that spectators must “treat the athletes respectfully.”

Tour of Flanders winner Mathieu van der Poel does not take the incident very seriously. “There were indeed some downpours on the Oude Kwaremont,” he responded laconically. “But I was so focused on my effort that it didn’t really bother me.” Which doesn’t mean that van der Poel liked it. Just before the finish he was also spat at by a spectator.

Tags: Police track beer throwers Oude Kwaremont obvious task


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