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.

For Big Collector of Tanks, Panzer Was Last Hurrah

WSJ Online
FEBRUARY 6, 2009, 8:04 P.M. ET
By STEPHEN MILLER

One of the nice things about owning a battalion’s worth of tanks is that when you throw a party, you can show off your war machines by crushing a car or two for your guests.

Jacques Littlefield, who boasted one of the world’s most extensive private collections of rolling armor, enjoyed that perk. He had a trained engineer’s love of mechanical innovation and the leisure to do painstaking restoration, bringing the rumble of martial steel to the verdant hills of Portola Valley, Calif.

Along with a small staff of mechanics at his ranch, Mr. Littlefield restored more than 200 pieces of military equipment, from self-propelled Soviet artillery to a British Rapier missile launcher to 65 tanks. The machines were displayed in a football-field-size garage at his private museum, which welcomed about 5,000 visitors annually.

The pride of his collection was a German Panzer V Panther from World War II, recovered from a Polish river, that his mechanics toiled for five years to restore. One of only a handful of working Panzer V’s in existence, it received its finishing touches just weeks after Mr. Littlefield’s death at 59 from cancer Jan. 7.

“His was one of the places on your bucket list,” notes Reg Hodgson, editor of Army Motors, the journal of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association. While the association boasts 9,200 members world-wide, only a handful have the resources to collect significant quantities of vehicles.

Mr. Littlefield was born into wealth. His great-grandfather having founded the Utah Construction Co., which helped build the Hoover and Grand Coulee dams. His father oversaw a 1976 merger with General Electric Co. that made him a member of the Forbes 400 Richest People in America.

Mr. Littlefield grew up making models and loving technology. “My idea of a fun vacation was to look at factories — a refrigerator factory in Louisville, a Cessna plant in Wichita,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2007. At his ranch was a mile-long track of model railway maintained by local hobbyists, as well as a baroque-style pipe organ he commissioned based on European originals in an acoustically high-tech hall.

Like his father, Mr. Littlefield studied engineering and business at Stanford University. Instead of joining fellow students in war protests, he spent his spare time in the engineering shop and once built a ¼-scale M-60A1 Patton tank with a working flamethrower.

“His politics were a bit different,” chuckles William A. Boller, an old friend and colleague who now is president of Mr. Littlefield’s Military Vehicle Technology Foundation, which oversees his legacy.

In 1975, Mr. Littlefield acquired his first military vehicle, an American M3A1 scout car, rather like an armored Jeep. Slowly acquiring more, he discovered a love of collecting. “There is a genre of human being like me,” he told the New York Times in 2003. “It’s like a type of dog.”

The end of the Cold War brought a lot of Soviet-bloc armaments onto the market. Mr. Littlefield worked with fellow collectors and agents to import all sorts of hardware, but usually vehicles that represented some sort of technical or functional advance.

He also amassed spare parts, which cropped up from odd places and which he shared with fellow collectors. When he didn’t have a spare, his mechanics could usually improvise something, often based on original blueprints that Mr. Littlefield housed in a large library.

The point was to be true to the original specifications, down to the nuts and bolts. Even the textile-coated wiring of an earlier day was replicated. The Panzer V’s engine was rebuilt with the original engine block and transmission, even though, Mr. Littlefield said in a documentary for the History Channel, it was too light for the 49-ton behemoth and the gears were vulnerable to stripping.

Photo (c) Bernard Zee

Mr. Littlefield’s workshop helps illuminate differences in war strategy. The Germans favored big, complicated tanks in part because they could always transport them to a factory for repairs. The Americans, fighting on battlefields an ocean away from home, built smaller, easier-to-repair tanks from standardized parts. In 2001, Mr. Littlefield told Forbes it took four Sherman tanks to destroy a Panzer, and three might end up destroyed themselves.

Dave Marian, the foundation’s curator, explains that “Germans solve problems in Germanic ways. A Panzer tank had probably eight times more parts than a [U.S.] Sherman tank.”

Mr. Littlefield didn’t lend his vehicles to Hollywood studios, though he did let Steven Spielberg record tank sounds for the film “Saving Private Ryan.” He also had a few high-profile items, such as the halftrack personnel carrier Lee Marvin drove in the movie “The Dirty Dozen” and one of the screws from the oceanliner Lusitania.

His collections extracted a personal cost. “It happens to a lot of guys,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 1992. “It happened to me. You get a tank, you get divorced. You get divorced, you lose the tank to pay the settlement.”

Video: Panther w/ turret first drive!!!!

Photo Collection from Littlefield’s museum.

If You’ve Gotta Go…

Were this my final road and mode of transport, I would not complain…

Maserati Gran Turismo-S

Current issue of Maserati Monthly = car porn.
Gran Turismo-S main page (with Flash video) = even better car porn.


(Note to my family, I am not considering suicide or obsessed with death. I am, however, obsessed with the Maserati Gran Turismo-S.)

Celebrate Castro’s Death?

someone wrote:

“…This is an ill advised, knee jerk, reactionary act, with not a ounce of forethought as to the consequences. I guess Miamians forget the heat they took about Elian, and now they will do it again in a government sponsored shing-ding…”

Again, doesn’t the Miami-based Cuban exile community understand PR and strategic communication tactics? Apparently not, because you’re right – what they’re proposing to do will undermine what little legitimacy they have left when calling for a transition to democracy in Cuba.

Let everyone who has suffered as a result of Castro celebrate his death in private, in their own homes, with their remaining family members; or go to church, pray for the souls of the many who died because of that bastard. But to make a public display of jubilation, when, in reality, the US was ultimately impotent and incapable of destroying Castro and his regime is distorted.

Again, celebrate his death in private. Weep for your dead loved ones. Weep for the property you lost and the fact that you’re exiled from your homeland – the most beautiful country in the world. But please, the only appropriate public ceremony in the US when Castro’s death is announced would be a candlelight vigil to 1) honor and remember those who died as a result of the tyrany and 2) to refocus attention on the millions of Cubans who will continue to suffer because the tyrannical system Castro put in place continues as strong or more so than before.

From the Archives (of another site): thoughts on public celebrations of Castro’s death

Monday, January 29, 2007
I don’t want the government’s money

This post was authored by a friend and published in a very different location. It should be re-read, however, by those rabid anti-Castroite’s fantasizing about a Castro Death Party….

Early this morning, Fox News had something strange in its ticker about the City of Miami selecting the Orange Bowl for the “official celebrations” for fidel castro’s death. I was actually in the middle of my workout, so I thought that maybe castro had decided to die and make my day. No. I got to the office, and I had a gazillion e-mails from friends, family, readers, acquaintances and unknowns sending me links to blogs, newspapers, and whatnot about an official celebration for the death of castro, whenever it happens, in which the official organizers expect to line up entertainers who donate their time, and a long description of the logistics.

Well, whatever, I thought. I don’t want the government’s money. I don’t believe that the government has to finance anybody’s celebration, for whatever motives.
You celebrate the 4th of July on your own nickel and dime.

You celebrate Christmas and Hannukah and the New Year on your own penny, no?
And you celebrate your birthday. And whatever else you want. On your own dollar.
Yes, castro is a reknown international terrorist and a criminal bastard.

But I think the celebration has to be done by everyone who wants it, and that the government has no place in it. Why?

First of all, I don’t want any money from the government when the government allows 34 States to deal with castro and at the same time keeps the dry foot wet foot in place. I don’t want a government financed party when the government has decided who are my family members, who are not, how much money I can give them and when, and when I can go and visit them when they are not free to come visit me. I just don’t want the government throwing a party because I am gonna be glad when that bastard kicks the bucket.
I think that everybody who wants to celebrate should do it, as long as they do it on their own penny. Government sponsored parties sounds very familiar to me, the tyranny of castro throw them all the time.

I think that if you want to celebrate, you should. Be my guest, celebrate whatever you want as much as you want. Pay for it, when you are at it, as it is your own celebration and your own responsibility.

I actually won’t be celebrating anything. I have nothing to celebrate if the freedom of Cuba is not achieved, and the death of castro doesn’t automatically bring any freedom to Cuba. It actually brings the continuation of the tyranny in the bloody hands of raul castro, and he has manifested his desire of having his favorite nephew fidelito castro to get his hands on the wheel when he “retires”. If you haven’t noticed, fidelito has let his beard grown, to remind us of his “charismatic” father during his younger days, and he already put back his old family name to use: Diaz Balart.

As far as we are concerned, kasstro is already dead, politically speaking, he is as good as dead.
There are Cubans dying in the sea, there are Cubans being repressed and killed and hunted down like wild animals. The bi-coastal guard is still busy sending rafters back, so I have nothing to celebrate. I am not celebrating the death that will give raul kasstro full access to the throne of Cuba. I am not celebrating that the tyranny is being continued by other means, if you know what I mean. As long as the tyranny is in place in Cuba I am not celebrating anything. It would be a slap to the face of the opressed Cubans, since fidel castro is not the problem in itself. He is just the symbol, the face of the problem, the real problem is the system he created and that is being sustained and legitimized by his brother successor.

Actually, such a big bang government sponsored party will kill anychance of having a free Cuba in the future. Hip swiveling will kill any chance of having any hard action taken against the tyranny, since the U.S. Government will say: “oh, no, you already celebrated, there’s no more fidel castro, there’s no more tyranny, and we are ready to deal with raul…. if raul was that much of a son of bitch, why on Earth did you celebrate that his brother was dead when you knew that he was ascending to the throne?”

That castro is alive or dead is irrelevant at this moment. The main core of the problem here is that 12 million Cubans are still opressed and under a tyranny, face it, the biological death of castro is not going to change a thing, for much that people celebrate.

I am one who doesn’t believe in big government or in getting any government handouts, or who wants any part of my life regulated or dictated by the government. So I don’t want the government giving me a place, occasion, timing, and entertainment to celebrate anything, and much less getting much needed tax dollars to celebrate anything.

Anything you get free from the government you pay for whenever you least expect it.
As I am telling you, if the government sponsored party is fine and dandy with you, you will have to be ready to accept that the government deals with the tyranny release 2.0 and release 3.0 on their own terms without your participation. They already paid for your party, and your acceptance of the party will mean the end of the tyranny for them. So they will be free to support whatever system is installed in Cuba after the clinical death of kasstro.

Amazingly, in an article that appeared in the Miami Herald the local politico, City Commisioner Tomas Regalado said. “There is something to celebrate, regardless of what happens next. … We get rid of the guy.” No, you didn’t do anything to get rid of the guy, Mr. Regalado, time got him, illness got him, not your “actions”. As we have predicted in this blog, many politicos are ready to take credit for the death of kasstro. Which is absurd and ridiculous. Such a celebration will also put Cubans in the worst possible light, as if we were a bunch of barbarians, and there will be a bunch of assholes who will point out that Iraqi Americans didn’t celebrate the death of Saddam…. who by the way, was brought to justice for his unspeakable crimes.
Celebrate privately, if you must.

We will be mourning the hundreds of thousands of Cubans who died under the tyranny, the ones who were taken to the shooting squad, the ones who drowned in the Straits, the ones who died serving in the military in the African wars of the Napoleon of the Caribbean, the ones who died of sadness in Cuba, and the ones who couldn’t return to a free Cuba. We will be sad because time and old age snatched fidel castro, and because justice could not be served. We will be sad, because the tyranny is still in place, and we will be sad because people fail to see it.

We will only celebrate when we have a free Cuba. Not a minute before.