Frank Vandenbroucke has died while on holiday in Senegal. Reports in Belgium have said that 34-year-old Belgian cyclist was found in his hotel room and that early reports indicate that he died of a blood clot.
Vandenbroucke was out of contract after leaving Cinelli-Down Under but was looking for a team in 2010 just a few weeks ago.
He turned pro in 1994 with Lotto and won an epic Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 1999, along with two stages in the Vuelta that year. In a two-year winning streak he also won Paris-Nice, Het Volk and Gent-Wevelgem riding for Mapei and Cofidis.
However, his career was not without controversy. He was questioned by police for drunk driving and possession of doping products and despite numerous comebacks he never reached the heights of 1999. He also suffered from depression and tried to commit suicide after his wife said she would divorce him.
Nevertheless, reactions from his friends, family as well as the press suggest that Vandenbroucke was in good shape and spirits lately. He had worked as a consultant for Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad at the World Championships in Mendrisio, hoping to get a contract with a team for 2010.
"I'm satisfied with this year," he told reporters of the paper last week. "I understand that the teams are reluctant to give me another chence, because I carry this past with me. But I think I proved this year that even without a monthly salary, I am still able to live a 100 percent for pro cycling."
His mother, Chantal Vanruymbeke, confirmed that he felt good lately. According to Belgian media, her last contact with her son was on Sunday evening, when he called from his holiday location.
"He was very excited and happy. Mama, he said, I am in the most beautiful hotel in Senegal. He gave me his hotel room number so that we could speak on the phone in the next few days. I was so happy that we had found our son back this year after ten difficult years. And now this. This is surreal. Irreversible," she said.
Cyclingnews would like to offer its condolences to his family and friends.