Van Lierde mugged during training ride

The 2013 Ironman world champion, Frederik Van Lierde, was attacked yesterday while preparing for Ironman South Africa.

| March 25, 2017 | NEWS

Photo >Nis Sienknecht / spomedis

2013 Ironman world champion Frederik Van Lierde was attacked on his bike while preparing for next week's Ironman South Africa in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. According to newspaper reports, Van Lierde was attacked by a group of men who took his cell phone and sunglasses.

"The suspects slowed him down by standing in front of him and he was pushed to one side of the road. They hit him on the head with sticks, but fortunately he was wearing a helmet," Ironman South African media spokesman Michael Flanagan told the Herald Live newspaper.

The good news is that Van Lierde appears to have recovered quickly and will be able to compete in the race next week, according to a post on his Facebook page:

"We can confirm that Frederik is recovering from an incident which happened during a training ride in Port Elizabeth, South Africa where he was attacked by a group. Thankfully Frederik escaped relatively unharmed and intends to participate in the race. We are overwhelmed by the support of Frederik’s fans and appreciate the help offered by the Ironman team."

Earlier in the day another cyclist was attacked on the same stretch of road, Victoria Drive. Leon Killian was also pushed off his bike by a group of attackers, who made off with his cell phone and backpack, which contained clothes and his wallet.

Ironman South Africa managing director, Keith Bowler, acknowledged the attacks are not good publicity for the upcoming Ironman 70.3 World Championship, which will take place in Nelson Mandela Bay in 2018.

"The event is there to promote Nelson Mandela Bay," he told Herald Live. "This is not good for the 2018 world championships."