Cameron Vandenbroucke has signed a contract to join the Lotto Soudal Ladies development team that will begin her cycling career in January 2019. It is the same programme that saw her late father Frank Vandenbroucke launch his cycling career back in 1994.
"People say that I look like my father when I'm on the bike," Cameron said in a report on Sporza. "Our positions are similar, which is nice to hear, because I'm still very proud of my father."
Vandenbroucke, 19, will be one of three riders joining the development programme alongside Emke De Keyser and Julie Roelandts next year. She raced in her first bike race in August this year, and won. She has a history in sports as a junior middle-distance runner, but a fractured foot forced her to switch sports.
"We won't throw Cameron in front of the lions," Lotto Soudal director Dany Schoonbaert said in a report on Stanaard.be. "During the first months of the season she won't participate in big races. She'll only ride [small races]. She still has a lot to learn.
"We provide a framework in which they can further learn the tricks of the cycling profession. She'll also be accompanied by her own trainer. Depending on the progress she makes, we'll eventually select her for the UCI races. But there's no rush."
Vandenbroucke will be joining the Belgian team Lotto Soudal Ladies, which has an elite women's programme that will include 13 riders. The team announced their elite women’s roster on Monday, which includes Belgian champion Annelies Dom and track specialist Lotte Kopecky, along with Alana Castrique, Demi de Jong, Chantal Hoffmann, Puck Moonen, Julie Van De Velde, Kelly Van den Steen and Fenna Vanhoutte. New to the team are Danique Braam, Thi That Nguyen, Marie Dessart and Dani Christmas.
Frank Vandenbroucke joined the Lotto team in 1994, at the beginning of his successful-but-turbulent cycling career. He only spent one season with the team before moving on to Mapei, Cofidis, Lampre, Domo-Farm Frites, Quick-Step, Fassa Bortolo, Unibet, Aqua & Sapone, and then Mitsubishi and Cinelli.
In the late 1990s, he won some of the biggest one-day races in cycling, including Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Omloop Het Volk, Gent-Wevelgem, Paris-Brussels and Scheldeprijs. He also won stages at Paris-Nice, the Tour de Wallonie and the Tour de Luxembourg.
Vandenbroucke's cycling career and personal life had moments of turmoil and controversy, however, as he was embroiled in doping problems and police arrests that spanned much of his career. He admitted to attempted suicide, and later died of a pulmonary embolism in 2009 at age 34.