American Cyclo-Crosser Jonathan Page, second-placed at the World Championships last week, refused to take the start of the Belgian Krawatencross in Lille this Saturday. According to Belgian reports, Page's assistant Franky Van Haesebroucke was not permitted entrance to the course by the gate keeper, and in an ensuing argument, a fight broke out, sending Van Haesebroucke to the hospital.
Cyclingnews spoke with Page about the incident. Page's wife Cory was with Van Haesebroucke before the start of the race, as the crew was heading into the venue. "He had a pass to get in, but the guy at the gate insisted that he had to pay." During the discussion over payment, Page said "Franky took a step forward to get out of the way of the crowds [who were coming in for the race], and the guards took that as him trying to go in without paying." The guards then grabbed Van Haesebroucke by the neck and threw him to the ground, and "basically beat him unconsious."
In the a brief press conference, the security guard, Wim Claes, said that he was "told the person that he hadn't paid. There was an exchange of words and then suddenly he grabbed me by the throat. I neutralised him. I do this job for years, so I have experience. It was an unfortunate incident."
"There is a rule that the assistants and mechanics have to pay entrance; that has been made very clear," said race organiser Jef Van den Brouck. "Apparently, Page's assistant didn't want to do this, and attacked the security guard, who then countered the aggression."
But Page's wife Cory told Cyclo-cross.info that van Haesebroucke did not start the fight, "Franky was not at all aggressive and certainly didn't grab anybody by the throat." Van Haesebroucke is being kept in the hospital overnight for observation after suffering a concussion, and possible nerve damage to the right side of his body due to the incident.
Page was shaken by the incident, and incredulous that it could even happen. "My friend and my mechanic, and it's a terrible thing to happen - I can't believe it happened."