Vandenbroucke was threatening suicide

According to his father, Frank Vandenbroucke was trying to scare his wife into thinking he'd committ

According to his father, Frank Vandenbroucke was trying to scare his wife into thinking he'd committ
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Frank Vandenbroucke's father, Jean-Jacques, has told the Belgian press that Monday's shooting incident at the Fassa Bortolo rider's home was an attempt by the Belgian rider to make his wife think he had committed suicide. Frank and his wife, Sarah, had been arguing on the phone when, according to latest reports, Frank went out into the garden and let off his shot gun in order to make his wife think he had shot himself. Speaking to La Dernire Heure at the bar the Vandenbroucke family run in Ploegsteert, not far from Frank's home near Nieuwkerke, Jean-Jacques was trying to play down the incident, saying that the couple had been arguing like many couples would. However, this argument led to Sarah Vandenbroucke calling the police because of fears for his husband's wellbeing, and a dozen police officers wearing bullet-proof vests turning up at the Vandenbroucke home to investigate. "I realise that this has made headlines because Frank is Frank, but it was just a dispute that numerous couples might have," said former pro and Lotto soigneur Jean-Jacques. "Frank was talking to Sarah on the telephone, they were arguing. He went out into the garden and let his shotgun off into the air. She was frightened that something had happened to him and called 100. He did it to try to make her scared." Frank's mother, Chantal, revealed that Frank had told her that same morning: "Now I need to sort myself out, to forget her and get myself together as a rider." The couple met at the world championships in Verona in 1999, since when Vandenbroucke has only won one professional race. Beforehand, he had won more than 40. For the past four years Vandenbroucke has been treated for depression by an Antwerp-based psychologist, Jef Brouwers. "This was the fifth or sixth time that Sarah had gone back to Italy," Jean-Jacques Vandenbroucke explained. "Every time she leaves him, Frank gets worse. This time it seemed to be definite because she was away for six weeks after Lige-Bastogne-Lige. It's very sad for their little girl. Sarah is a nice woman, she's intelligent, but she can get aggressive. "When they are together they fight, when they are apart they cry. He can't bear it when she leaves. He blames himself and takes all the guilt on himself. And then there is his daughter [two-year-old Margaux]. He can't bear not being able to see her. What will he do when she's in Milan with her mother? "On Monday the doctor prescribed antidepressants for him. I probably shouldn't say so but since Verona when he met Sarah he has not been a committed rider. He's only won one race since then, a kermesse. He needs to get a grip on himself now, but he has not got much time. He is going to be released again. Then there will only be one team left for him, Chocolade Jacques, where Noel Demeulenaere will find him a place."

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