Just Weeks Ago VDB Was Training with the Belgian National Team in Mendrisio

Just a few weeks ago, Frank Vandenbrouke accompanied the Belgian team on a training ride at the Mendrisio, Switzerland world championship venue.VDB was captured on film in Mendrisio in this image by Sirotti, which I pulled from the original website in order to add a border to the photo:

A whole host of other VDB photo albums can be seen here on Picasa. Wonder if they’ll be pulled down? Belgium is divided linguistically, politically and socially between the northern, Dutch-speaking Flemish and the southern, French-speaking Walloons. Vandenbroucke’s family was unusual in being Walloon but living in Flanders and speaking Dutch in daily life. Does it matter now? Not for VDB.

“Tainted blood, broken body, spirit, mind –
Become dust, swept into the cobbles,
Soon to be forgotten.
All is ephemeral – fame and the famous as well.”
RIP, VDB.

Frank Vandenbroucke, RIP (updated with video)

This just plain sucks. Translated article from the European press here.

Belgian dies on holiday in Senegal

Frank Vandenbroucke has died while on holiday in Senegal. Reports in Belgium have said that 34-year-old Belgian cyclist was found in his hotel room and that early reports indicate that he died of a blood clot.

Vandenbroucke was out of contract after leaving Cinelli-Down Under but was looking for a team in 2010 just a few weeks ago.

He turned pro in 1994 with Lotto and won an epic Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 1999, along with two stages in the Vuelta that year. In a two-year winning streak he also won Paris-Nice, Het Volk and Gent-Wevelgem riding for Mapei and Cofidis.

However, his career was not without controversy. He was questioned by police for drunk driving and possession of doping products and despite numerous comebacks he never reached the heights of 1999. He also suffered from depression and tried to commit suicide after his wife said she would divorce him.

Vandenbroucke in the 1999 Vuelta a España
Part 1 in a series of VDB interviews

PUDATED: Valentino Fois 1973-2008: Former Pantani team-mate found dead – Fois racconta: "La mia vita tra cocaina e depressione" (UPDATED)

La storia del bergamasco, condannato per tentato furto: “Sono in cura a Parma in un centro tossicologico. Prendevo ciò che prendevano tutti, chi nega è bugiardo. Ho un solo amico: è Tonkov”

Fois trovato morto in casa

Il ciclista sarebbe stato stroncato da un malore nella casa di Villa d’Alme, dove viveva con la madre. Due volte squalificato per doping, poi droga e depressione hanno tormentato la sua vita

BERGAMO, 28 marzo 2008 – Il ciclista Valentino Fois, 34 anni, è stato trovato morto stamattina nella sua abitazione di Villa D’Almè, in provincia diBergamo. Ancora non sono chiare le cause del decesso ma, secondo i primi rilievi, l’uomo sarebbe stato colpito da un malore. Il corridore era stato coinvolto in passato in un’inchiesta sul doping. Il corpo senza vita di Fois è stato rinvenuto dalla madre con la quale l’atleta viveva nel piccolo centro della provincia di Bergamo. Secondo i primi rilievi, il ciclista sarebbe stato colto da un malore nel sonno. Sul caso stanno però indagando i carabinieri della Compagnia di Zogno e nelle prossime ore sarà probabilmente l’autopsia a spiegare il motivo della morte.

IN CURA – Fois era stato recentemente in cura presso un centro specializzato di Parma per guarire dalla tossicodipendenza e dalla depressione. Nel settembre del 2007 aveva avuto anche qualche guaio con la giustizia per un furto di computer portatili che gli era costato una condanna a 100 giorni di reclusione, tramutati in una pena pecuniaria di 4 mila euro.

CON PANTANI – Professionista dal 1996, tra gli scalatori più promettenti dell’epoca, Fois era stato fermato nel ’98 per doping dopo due casi di positività al Giro di Svizzera e al Giro di Polonia. Nel 2002 Marco Pantani lo volle con sè alla Mercatone Uno. Poi la squalifica per doping. In questa stagione era tornato a correre con l’Amore e Vita McDonald’s di Ivano Fanini, partecipando al Giro della Provincia di Grosseto. Il 29 febbraio era andata in onda un’intervista rilasciata al programma “Le Iene”, su Italia 1. Qualche giorno dopo la madre di Pantani aveva deciso di querelare Fois. Dieci giorni fa era tornato dall’Africa, dove aveva corso il giro della Costa d’Avorio, classificandosi tra i primi 30, e si stava allenando per la Settimana Lombarda, che prenderà il via martedì prossimo in provincia di Bergamo. “Ci siamo allenati insieme fino a quattro giorni fa – ha detto Ivan Quaranta -. Siamo stati insieme anche ieri pomeriggio; abbiamo bevuto un aperitivo poi l’ho riaccompagnato a casa verso le 20, perché mi ha detto che sarebbe andato a trovare Rachele, la sua fidanzata. Stava bene, non so cosa sia potuto accadere”.

L’ULTIMA SERA – Ieri sera, però, dalla fidanzata Valentino non è mai arrivato anche se dopo cena è comunque uscito: qualcuno lo ha visto da solo in un bar del centro di Bergamo, ma al momento non si sa come sia tornato a Villa d’Almè. Valentino Fois non possedeva più auto, e si spostava a piedi o in bicicletta. Questa mattina nella sua camera da letto, i carabinieri hanno trovato solo medicinali di uso comune – che sono stati acquisiti – e nessuna traccia di stupefacenti. Gli inquirenti hanno trattenuto anche il suo telefono cellulare; i tabulati potrebbero infatti svelare l’identità della persona che per ultima lo ha visto in vita nella tarda serata di ieri. In giornata, i militari hanno comunque ascoltato i familiari del corridore, alcuni conoscenti, il medico di famiglia e poi Ivan Quaranta, Ivano e Cristian Fanini. E proprio dalla famiglia di Fois arriva la testimonianza di come la sua vicenda legata al doping lo aveva segnato profondamente: “Dopo la squalifica, nessuno più gli dava fiducia – dice Gianmario, fratello maggiore di Valentino -. Alcuni giudici di gara gli impedivano persino di gareggiare nelle competizioni di gran fondo. In questi ultimi tempi si era ripreso e aveva trovato nell’Amore e Vita una squadra che non solo gli ha dato fiducia, ma che gli ha voluto davvero bene”.

Bike Radar Reported it as follows:

Valentino Fois 1973-2008: Former Pantani team-mate found dead

* Despite an attempted comeback, Fois appears to have succumbed to his demons
* A former team mate of Pantani, Fois was only slighly less talented

“Those of you who have already received your April issue may have read the heart-rending story of Valentino Fois, the former alcoholic and team-mate of Marco Pantani who had recently embarked upon a comeback with the Amore e Vita team.

This morning, regrettably, that story already had a tragic postcript as police in Fois’s hometown, Bergamo, announced that the 34-year-old had been found dead. An autopsy will tell us more in due course. For now all we know is that Fois appeared to have been struck by a sudden illness. He had apparently spent the night with friends in Bergamo and had only returned home at 4.30am. Earlier in the day Fois had trained with team-mate Ivan Quaranta.

Fois had spoken in recent months about how doping had acted as a conduit to what later became a full-blown drug and alcohol habit, but it would both premature and opportunistic to use attribute his demise to the wider problems of his sport. Fois was always known in the peloton as a fragile and deeply impressionable individual. In many ways, he was similar to Pantani, only with slightly less talent. I say slightly because Fois himself was no mean climber, good enough to win Italy’s hardest and most mountainous amateur stage race, the Giro della Val d’Aosta.

It is more than likely that Fois, like Pantani, was killed by depression. Cocaine might have been il Pirata’s ultimate poison, but his life was gradually squeezed out over several years, not obliterated by a few grams of powder. For years Fois had been suffering in the same way. In recent months he’d found some relief in books on Buddhism. He’d undergone successful treatment in a clinc for addiction and mental health problems. But it may all have been too little. The man who hoped that cycling might prove Fois’s life raft, Amore e VIta boss Ivano Fanini, told me last month that, while making excellent progress, Fois was still clearly grappling with old demons.

It bears repeating: whatever that autopsy tells us, Fois’s death should be seen as nothing more than the tragedy of a young man who’d spent years at odds with himself and his world. He never gave up, but sadly, this morning, after 34 and a half years, life gave up on Valentino Fois.”
Bike Radar,
Daniel Friebe
Friday, Mar 28, 2008 11.00am

Lastly, though I’m not though not a regular reader, this requote at Steroid Nation of a VeloNews article creeped me out:

“In an interview, he blamed the incident on the fact that he had taken to drinking because he had not raced for so long. He admitted trying cocaine and suffering from depression and anxiety, for which he was receiving treatment.

Pantani, the great Italian climber, was also involved with doping, depression, cocaine, and death. Doping, polysubstance abuse = bad outcome.

Poll # 2 – Astana: dead or alive?

———> Has the sun set on the team from the former Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic? With the UCI threatening within a week to revoke the team’s ProTour license, held by Bruyneel, it’s up to Tex to save the day. Will he? Vote now.

New Poll – Cycling Death Watch 1

Per the recommendation of Burt Hoovis, Pappillon features its first-ever poll: Which velo-drama will happen first?

[NOTE: Poll is in right-side menu bar at top of the column —->]

This Cycling Death Watch asks the question: will Rock Racing kick the bucket before Philly, leaving Paco Mancebo on the dole, or will the race once known as the CoreStates United States Pro Cycling Championship (which was won by Roberto Gaggioli of all people in 1988) disappear from the calendar and fade into the wikipedia category, “Defunct cycling races,” alongside former monuments like the Thrift Drug Classic and the Tour de Trump?

I’m not a gambling man, but if I was, I’d still have no idea how to handicap this or even offer odds. So, if anyone from the old Sportsbook.com team is in my audience, please feel free to lay down some odds in a comment to this post.

I’ll leave option #3 in the poll until you guys tell me in great enough numbers that it’s inappropriate or otherwise confusing the issue (guess not, didn’t realize that once a vote is cast the poll can no longer be edited)…and Gag’, if you’re out there and can email me a digital photo of you crossing the line at Corestates, or even a scan of the old Michelin advert., I’d appreciate it.

Finally, anyone else like how this image (reproduced on the right) shows up on page three of a Google search for photos of Gag‘? And no, that is not Gaggioli’s ex-wife Lynn, who can be seen in the screen cap below…