The BMC rider could see prosecution after the driver claimed he was not drunk and that Gilbert used an illegal spray in the confrontation on Friday

BMC Racing‘s star Philippe Gilbert risks jail time for pepper spraying two men during a confrontation on Friday near Liège, Belgium. A report also said that the men were not drunk as Gilbert and his teammate Loïc Vliegen had claimed.

Gilbert broke his left middle finger in three points in the skirmish and pulled out of Wednesday’s De Brabantse Pijl race. He is still due to start in the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.

Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported that police in Verviers confirmed yesterday that the two men in the car were not drunk.

It also said that the spray is considered a weapon in Belgium and could bring the former world champion one month to five years in jail and a fine of 100 to 25,000 Euro (£80 to £20,000).

Gilbert normally trains in France and in Monaco, where he lives and the spray is not prohibited. He was home to prepare for the upcoming Ardennes Classics – the Amstel Gold Race, the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

BMC Racing released a statement on Saturday that said, “Two intoxicated men in a car [targeted Gilbert and Vliegen]. One of the men stepped out of the car and acted aggressively towards Vliegen and Gilbert.”

Gilbert said of the incident:”Loïc and I had been riding for five and a half hours and were on our way home from doing a recon for Liège-Bastogne-Liège when a car drove at us full gas from behind while we were in Theux which is when the altercation started. I will cooperate fully with the police with their investigation.”

However the driver of the car has since filed a complaint against Gilbert, reported another Belgian newspaper, Het Laatste Nieuws, claiming the incident did not take place as BMC stated.

“It started on a road outside the city,” said the driver. “Three cyclists took the full width of the road. Only after a few kilometres, I managed to pass.

“When I honked, they insulted me. I slowed down and the riders came next to me. I wanted to talk to them, I had my window open, but the youngest [Vliegen] of them tried to hit me.”

He said he drove on and stopped in Theux, where the incident continued. “They beat us and used a spray. Contrary to the BMC press release, I didn’t hit them and I was not drunk.”

  • Namothy

    Victim blaming itself is a cheap trick used to shut down any prospect of protecting the abused.

  • pgsorefinger

    My experience is motorists deny that their blowing horns or swerving at cyclists is an act of aggression. Pepper spray is a lot less lethal than a 2000 lb car.

  • Ben

    Thanks, yes I do ride regularly, and in groups which are happy to share the road considerately, without weapons, and not been beaten up yet or had to defend myself by breaking fingers and running to a team doctor with a story. But I too struggle with near passes and general car driver frustration at times on lanes. As put in this article, there are two sides to this story, one more plausible than the other based on Police corroboration of events however unpopular to fans of Gilbert. One account has holes in it and integrity question marks, oh and was carrying an illegal weapon.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    I would imagine the real truth is much closer to Gilbert’s description.

    Ever ridden a bike Mr Troll? Just about every time you go out you get abuse from belligerent chavs. Sadly Belgum has it’s own variation of these morons – and I’ve little doubt that Gilbert and his training partners had much the same experience as many bikies do in the UK.

    And then the chavs find out that Gilbert is a well-off superstar and as chavs do, start lying their heads off – “It wasn’t me guv” etc etc.

    Chavs and chancers.

  • Chris

    …..and you sir are a troll! This is based on the evidence of this page, unlike your evidence which is dreamed up in your head (possibly).

  • Ben

    Well it’s not helpful is it? Unless of course this is a revenge dish served cold for a doper.

  • Ben

    Understand that, very true, this is about Gilbert. Looking at the balance of probabilities, he used an illegal weapon, possibly lied to his team about his injuries, possibly lied to his team about the car driver in order to fake the circumstances. This story will die as soon as he (may) be found guilty.

  • Kx

    Yeah ever fight in road shoes?? Ha next to impossible !!

  • ummm…

    didn’t know that about him. altho i’ll say I’m a reasonably nice guy unless I’m on a bike and get an aggressive driver in my space. maybe he flipped

  • ummm…

    yeah ben, we dont know all the facts. As for pepper spray being illegal – that is a different story. But, hold your ire until we understand the full fact pattern. also, “cyclists” is a bit general. just speak about gilbert if you’d like.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    Go away you wummer.

  • Habanero

    Does the story not deserve to be broadcast simply because it isn’t beneficial to what you think is the “progressive cycling” agenda?

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    Agree, and all the evidence is that PhilGil is one of the nicest guys in the bunch.

  • ummm…

    the phrase “victim blaming” automatically numbs my ears. It is way to overused as a cheap rhetorical trick to shut down conversation.

  • ummm…

    never heard of it. can’t think why they would – think of the weight!

  • ummm…

    kinda think if Gilbert was an angry rider, he would have had an incident by now.

  • Massimiliano Marco Accaputo

    You’re claiming “it’s a lie”… Based on what investigative proof do you have that Gilbert lied? The guys in the car that were harassing the riders prior to the altercation? Don’t believe everything you read. Let’s let the police investigate the incident and find out who is actually telling the truth.

  • David Kerry

    Must be the results of all that epo he took!!!!

  • llos25

    It is not a fact it is hearsay evidence so I would be careful what I said.

  • Ben

    No trolling, just going on what is written there. Fact is Gilbert used an illegal weapon and said to his employer that driver was drunk, which BMC took in good faith and released. This was a lie. Whatever happened, no doubt the law will take a view on the facts (which we don’t know), and sanction appropriately. I’d be pretty p***ed if I was BMC right now, that’s all. This story serves no use to the cycling community.

  • Billy

    This “victim” used an illegal weapon.

  • Jon McWood

    Get to know the facts before you take sides, troll.

  • Ben

    Inconsiderate cyclists incite road rage in car, get shouted at, beat them up and spray them with illegal weapon. Also lied to employer, how is this story beneficial to progressive cycling agenda?

  • Namothy

    Imagine how much worse his injuries would have been had he not defended himself with the spray. Victim blaming again.

  • do pros really carry pepper spray?