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Vandenbroucke denies suicide attempt

Frank Vandenbroucke (Acqua & Sapone)

Frank Vandenbroucke (Acqua & Sapone) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Team Manager Masciarelli gives details

Frank Vandenbroucke has denied trying to commit suicide. "What they are saying about me is not true," he told the Belgian website sporza. "Yes, I am very depressed. Sarah [his wife - ed.] wants a divorce and now I am paying the price for that.

"But I did not want to commit suicide. Wednesday, I checked myself into the hospital," said Vandenbroucke, apparently seeking help for his depression.

The rider's story contradicts that of his team manager, Palmiro Masciarelli of Acqua & Sapone, who had signed the Belgian last fall. Masciarelli took him under his wing and had him come and live with his family in Pescara, Abruzzo.

"He asked to return to Vermezzo [Milan], and I gave him 1000 euro and he departed in his car from Pescara," recalled Masciarelli to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Because of Vandenbroucke's unstable mental state he asked that his nephew travel to Milan to visit his adopted son. "When I understood the situation, I asked that my nephew Mimmo go and visit him. He told me that Tuesday night Frank had asked for the credit card, saying that he wanted to go and buy some gas and then he returned in a wretched condition, after spending 450 euro. 'Uncle, it is not as if he put it in the car,' he told me."

The situation worsened and Vandenbroucke was found by Mimmo on Wednesday after he had tried to commit suicide. "It was Mimmo who found him passed out at home. Frank had tried to cut his veins, without success, and he took sleeping pills. Mimmo called the police. If it was not for my nephew then we would have had found him ten days later and we would have been talking of another Pantani."

Masciarelli continues to reach out to the cyclist, and he wishes that he returns soon to his home in southern Italy. "I have told him that if he wants to he can continue to ride for Acqua & Sapone or work for me as a representative. Frank does not have any money. His entire earnings end up with is wife. We have tried to contact her and she always gives a cold response. Freddy Maertens [ex-teammate of Masciarelli - ed.] has tried to talk with his mom, in Belgium, but it is also like she does not want to see him anymore."

Vandenbroucke is recovering at the Red Cross hospital in Fornaroli di Magenta. Masciarelli concluded, "When he is discharged, I am ready to go and pick him up, and to take him to Pescara."

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