Frank Vandenbroucke dead at 34

Belgian cyclist led troubled life

Belgian cyclist Frank Vandenbroucke has died aged 34, a source close to the racer told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The source did not speculate on the cause of death, but Vandenbroucke suffered from depression and tried two years ago to commit suicide after his wife said she was divorcing him.

It was reported in various publications that the rider was found dead from a pulmonary embolism in a hotel in Senegal, where he was on holiday.

"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."

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 QuickStep team, Vandenbroucke appeared to be 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 sank further into depression.

© 2009 AFP

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