The Tour of Qatar starts on Sunday, and for one family in Belgium the 2010 race will mark a sad anniversary. One year ago Friday, in Doha, Topsport Vlaanderen professional Frederiek Nolf passed away at the age of 21, suffering a heart attack while he slept.
His parents, Freddy Nolf and Mimi Vandekerckhove, are still trying to come to terms with the death of their only child. “We aren't able to deal with it, “ his mother told Sportwereld.be. “The year has passed so quickly. It is as if it happened yesterday.”
She continued, “I don't show it, but inside I am shattered; for the rest of my life. We are glad that he is not forgotten.”
The fifth of February is only the first traumatic date. His body was flown home on the 10th, which would also have been his 22nd birthday, and his funeral was held on the 21st. “I still wonder why we are so punished,” said the mourning mother.
The family still has contact with their son's former teammates and friends, including Stijn Devolder. “Stijn has a heart of gold. After the death, he promised us that he would win one of the two Classics,” said the Nolf's father. “It show what a man is when he wins the Ronde van Vlaanderen and then comes to your house that night to think of your son.”
Despite it all, the parents “[We are] are not angry that he was a cyclist. It was his dream, ever since he was six-years-old.”
His father says he still cannot bring himself to attend a race in person, but is looking forward to watching the races on TV this season. The mother has further to go to cope with her loss. “It is a nightmare. Sometimes I hear him come home, his bed creaking. If only it were true.”
Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator withdrew from last year's Tour of Qatar immediately after Nolf's death. The Belgian squad have returned to Qatar for the 2010 edition of the event, which begins on Sunday with an 8.2 kilometer team time trial.