By Gregor Brown
Italy's Team Cinelli-OPD confirmed the signing of Franck Vandenbroucke yesterday. The talented Belgian, who Team Mitsubishi-Jartazi released midway through 2008, will make his debut February in South America.
"I have known him for many years, I raced alongside him. He is a great name and can help promote the team and the brand name Cinelli on an international level. ... We are more concerned with him as a person than as a cyclist; of course, any results will be welcome," said Cinelli-OPD General Manager, Simone Biasci, to Cyclingnews.
Vandenbroucke was one of Belgium's brightest stars after he debuted with team Lotto in 1994. His principle victories include Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Nice in 1998, Omloop Het Volk and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 1999. In recent years he faced drug-related problems and attempted suicide.
Team Cinelli is a Continental team, or third division, that races mostly in Italy. The races it will attend will not be as high-ranked as Team Mitsubishi-Jartazi, a Professional Continental team.
"After we were with him for about 10 days in Belgium, we saw that he has a great desire to return to racing. ... He will make his start in South America, maybe at the Vuelta a Cuba. At the end of February, I think he will be racing in Belgium, but we are still developing the programme."
Team Cinelli will announce another rider in the coming days; he could be Jörg Jaksche or Jimmy Casper. "We will have another big name to ride alongside Frank."
Vandenbroucke's past teams: Lotto (1994), Lotto / Mapei (1995), Mapei (1996-1998), Cofidis (1999-2000), Lampre-Daikin (2001), Domo-Farm Frites (2002), Quick Step-Davitamon (2003), Fassa Bortolo / MrBookmaker (2004), MrBookmaker-Sports Tech (2005), Unibet.com / Acqua & Sapone (2006), Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo (2007), Mitsubishi-Jartazi (2008)