The enigmatic Frank Vandenbroucke has reportedly begun working on another comeback, according to Belgian news agency Sporza. The 33 year-old former winner of Paris-Nice and Liège-Bastogne-Liège recently explained that he is planning a final racing return.
"I will live as a priest," he said from south-eastern Flanders. "Last year I trained a whole winter with knee pain, although I didn't say it at the time, because they don't really believe any longer.
"My left leg was missing 36 percent of its strength and in June I wanted to operate on it for the last time," he said. "I have now been working on my body for more than a month. The muscle mass is not yet totally back, but doctor De Clercq guarantees me that the knee will come good again."
Vandenbroucke started his professional career with Lotto back in 1993, before a move to Cofidis in 1999 saw his career really take of with Liège-Bastogne-Liège victory and two Vuelta a España victories adding to his Paris-Nice win the previous year. The rider has suffered a more troubled recent history, with a separation from his wife and attempted suicide well publicized throughout European media.
"In the next six months I'll try to make something from this preparation," he said. "I want to live as a priest, train and then look for a team."
The man who was once the darling of the Belgian public has undergone plenty of change in his private dealings, but he believes he's now found more focus in that area of his life. "Everything is good with my children," he said. "I may see my daughter again in Italy and I want to travel there for the last week of each month. I can train there too."
"I am now a bachelor," he added. "After my relationship with Sarah I had four or five months where I was seeing another woman, but nothing came of it. I live for myself now."
He added that he has plans for life in retirement, whether his comeback is successful or not. "After my career I want to remain involved in the sporting environment," he said. "As a manager in football, for instance. I want to make a second part of my biography after my first one sold 20,000 copies."