Jean-Jacques Vandenbroucke has revealed that son Frank’s friend and former team-mate Fabio Polazzi, who was staying in Senegal with the Belgian, informed him of the rider’s passing on Monday. He spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since his son’s passing, as photos of the Senegalese hotel where the 34-year-old passed away came to light.
Vandenbroucke’s father revealed that while he had been suicidal during parts of his life, he believed his son had been doing well recently. "It is like a bad dream," Vandenbroucke told Nieuwsblad.be. "What can I say about the loss of a child?
"We have in the past sometimes been afraid we’d get this news. But not now,” he said. “In his private life he had come so far, we thought he had found stability. Frank was confident of finding another team and he was back to his weight from the great days. He wanted to train seriously this winter. "
The rider’s father admitted that his son had previously expressed concerns over his own welfare. "After his arrest in 2002 Frank said to me ‘Dad, I fear for myself. My life is now very difficult, maybe it is over’,” he said.
Vandenbroucke had called his parents after arriving in Senegal on Sunday. The next phone call they received came from Polazzi’s phone the following day.
"He has called us from Senegal. He had bought a phone card Senegal because it would be easier,” he said. “The day of his death we were called to the number of Fabio. My wife took the call, but was addressed by a Senegalese policeman. By his accent they thought it was a joke, until Fabio got on the line, then we knew it was no joke. "
With speculation rife over how Vandenbroucke passed away, his parents requested an autopsy be done by local authorities. Local gendarmerie declared yesterday that it would take place in Dakar over the next two days.
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