Belgian cyclist Vandenbroucke dies at 34
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Belgian cyclist Vandenbroucke dies at 34

by VeloNation Press at 5:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Frank Vandenbroucke, 34, died today of a pulmonary embolism, a case where the main artery to the lung becomes blocked by a substance. The former Liege Bastogne Liege winner died while on his vacation in Senegal according to RTBF.

"Sadly this has only partly come as a surprise, for we knew he was not doing too well," said Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke, who is his uncle and former professional cyclist.  "He was up and down, both in terms of his health and his morale. He left for Senegal on Sunday."

Vandenbroucke was in the middle of his comeback after facing years of drug and family problems that centered around his battle with depression. He was looking to make his return to the professional ranks next year, and was negotiating with several teams.

Vandenbroucke made his professional debut in 1994 and recorded 51 victories, including the 1999 Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic which was the highlight of his career.

In 2002, Vandenbroucke was stopped in his car by police two times and was found to be under the influence of alcohol. In that same year a police search of his home uncovered large quantities of doping substances.

In 2003, when Vandenbroucke rode for the Quick Step team, he appeared to have gotten his act back together after a second place finish in Belgium's biggest Classic, the Tour of Flanders.

However, a constant bout with depression proved to be his biggest enemy, and despite a promising start to the 2004 season, he was unable to cope.

Earlier this year Vandenbroucke admitted to the magazine Che that he wasn't riding clean when he took his biggest win saying, "I was doped in 1999 when I won the Liège-Bastogne-Liege.

"Nevertheless, it was a fair race, a fair result. I didn't do anything that the second, third, fourth, fifth ... place finishers on that day didn't. We fought with the same weapons."

But while Vandenbroucke's admission to doping earned him a new found respect for his latest comeback, it drew sharp criticism and denials from the other top riders in the 1999 race.  The four riders he was referring to were Michael Boogerd, Maarten Den Bakker, Michele Bartoli and Paolo Bettini.

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