Rider Down: Frank Vandenbroucke

Another rider meets a very sad end way too early … l’enfant terrible though he may have been, there is no doubt that VDB was one of the most natural talents of recent years, and that if he had been able to conquer his demons, his career would have been a long and storied one.

AFP: Troubled Belgian cyclist Vandenbroucke dead at 34

BRUSSELS — Belgian cyclist Frank Vandenbroucke has died at the age of 34, a source close to the racer told AFP.

The source did not speculate on the cause of death, saying only his body was found in a Senegalese hotel room where he had been holidaying.

However, Vandenbroucke suffered from depression and tried two years ago to commit suicide after his wife said she was divorcing him.

Belgian media suggested the rider had suffered a pulmonary embolism.

“Sadly this has only partly come as a surprise, for we knew he was not doing too well,” said his uncle, former racer Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke.

“He was up and down, both in terms of his health and his morale. He left for Senegal on Sunday.”

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

In 2002, Vandenbroucke was twice stopped by police and discovered to be under the influence of alcohol at the wheel of a car. In another incident that year, a police search at his home uncovered a large quantity of doping substances.

In 2003, when he rode for the Quick Step team, Vandenbroucke appeared on the way back after a second place finish in the prestigious Tour of Flanders classic.

However, despite a promising start to the 2004 season, hopes of a sustained comeback were cut short and he sunk further into depression.

Troubled Belgian cyclist Frank Vandenbroucke found dead in Senegal

Frank Vandenbroucke, 34, the talented Belgian cyclist whose athletic skills were often overshadowed by personal battles, has died, according to the news agency Agence France Presse.

Vandenbroucke was found dead in his hotel room in Senegal, where he was on holiday.

A preliminary diagnosis suggests Vandenbroucke suffered from a pulmonary embolism, accoring to the French news service.

Vandenbroucke made his professional debut in 1994 and recorded 51 victories, including the 1999 Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic, his career highlight. He rode with 12 pro teams.

Despites his cycling successes, Vandenbroucke often lived on the edge. He was stopped several times by police for driving under the influence of alcohol, and investigators also found doping substances in his home in 2002.

Vandenbroucke finished second in the 2003 Tour of Flanders, but he suffered from depression and attempted to commit suicide two years ago when his wife said she was divorcing him.

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