PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
After failing to take part in yesterday's Paris-Roubaix as had been requested by his MrBookmaker.com team, Frank Vandenbroucke is set to meet with team boss Hilaire van der Schueren today to discuss his future racing programme. It is being reported in Belgium that if Vandenbroucke refuses to commit himself to the programme drawn up by Van der Schueren he will be sacked by his team.
According to La Dernire Heure, Vandenbroucke had agreed to start Roubaix and ride as far as the first feeding station after belatedly pulling out of last week's Circuit of the Sarthe. However, according to his team, the controversial Belgian rider was hospitalised last Friday after a bad reaction to medicine he had been given to treat food poisoning.
Van der Schueren explained that he had visited the rider in hospital to assess the problem for himself. "I saw enough to realise that what he had told me was true," he commented, adding that Vandenbroucke was expected to leave hospital on Sunday.
"The best thing that could happen to him is for him to get back on his bike as soon as possible," said Van der Schueren. "All these affairs, with [former Miss Belgium] Joke van de Velde and with his wife Sarah, are weighing heavily on him. But I have told him that he has my confidence and that I believe he will be a rider again."
MrBookmaker DS Lucien van Impe, who spent hours waiting in vain in Nantes last week waiting for VDB to turn up for the Sarthe event, felt that it would now be another month before Vandenbroucke was ready to return to the peloton. Van Impe concluded: "With all the talent he has, I hope it's not the case, but I'm afraid that his season and even his career might be finished."
Those possibilities seem more likely if a story on the Italian Tutto Bici site is to be believed. Tutto Bici cites rumours circulating at Roubaix that Vandenbroucke had indeed been hospitalised, but in a psychiatric institution.