By Kirsten Robbins
Shortly after Mike Sayers of the BMC team won the most aggressive rider's jersey in Stage 4 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix on June 22, the team drove off to fight unexpected crime in the parking lot of the hotel being used by most of the teams and organisation. Arriving at the hotel, the squad came to the assistance of Navigators soigneur, Janis Burns, who was involved in an altercation with a man reportedly seen breaking into her room.
"It is very scary but it is also good to see that no matter what team we all work for, our little family of the cycling community will have each other's back when it really comes down to it," commented Burns.
Burns chased a large man wearing a suit, unaffiliated with the race, down into the hotel parking lot after Navigator's rider, Matt Cooke, called to notify her that a strange man had exited her room. "I chased him because I didn't know why he was there or if he had stolen any valuables," said Burns, still shaken several days after the incident.
"As I went to call the police he punched me in the chest," Burns explained. "At that point I ran after him kicking and screaming and got a couple of punches in myself."
The BMC team drove into the parking lot when they noticed the altercation. "I could hear Dan Schmatz jump out of the car and come up from behind yelling 'stop or I'll shoot'," she added, "which was actually a smart thing to do because it worked and the man stopped."
Schmatz, who saw the two running across the parking lot, ran after them in an attempt to catch the perpetrator. "We hit the ground and once we got up more of the guys came over to help," Schmatz said. "At that time I still didn't know what was going on but I knew Janis must have had a good reason to be chasing him and something must be wrong."
Four BMC riders jumped out of the team van to provide Schmatz with assistance to corral the 250bs man closer toward the hotel. "Dan Schmatz body-slammed him and his teammates held him down until the police cruisers arrived," Burns said.
Local Minneapolis police arrived and took the man to the local station where they learned of a history of criminal conduct and convictions. "I spoke with the detective last night and as it turns out he is a registered multiple sex offender," Burns said. Though his name has not been revealed, his form includes a long list of sex offences and burglary. "The detectives told me that he had a magnetic unlocking device that enabled him to get into any hotel room," she added. "They also said he was focused on one of the women's soigneurs and it happened to be me."