Belgian cycling's problem child Frank Vandenbroucke has released his autobiography, titled Ik ben God niet (I am not a God), which hit stores in Belgium on Friday. The rider was just released from his contract with the Mitsubishi-Jartazi team Thursday after he did not race for several weeks. The rider with the checkered past was the target of a International Cycling Union (UCI) snub when the sport's governing body granted his team the coveted 'wild-card' status with the stipulation that 'VDB' not be on the roster for any ProTour event. He was then named in a Belgian police investigation as a customer of drug dealers.
In the book, Vandenbroucke gives an honest account of his rise to fame and then plunge into turmoil in the late 1990's. "From my youth through the great victories to depression and drug addiction: I have as much detail as possible. But it is not a confession," he told Sporza.be.
Vandenbroucke was a promising Classics man, having won Paris-Nice, Gent-Wevelgem, and in 1999 Het Volk and Liège-Bastogne-Liège before being the target of a police raid on his home. 'VDB' admitted that he had been involved with Bernard 'Dr. Mabuse' Sainz, a horse breeder who was one of several people charged with supplying doping products to cyclists.
In 2002, another raid on his home turned up several banned substances, and he served a six month suspension after which his career was never the same. Troubles with drunk driving and domestic disputes replaced victories on the bike, and a nagging knee injury cut short a briefly promising return to form that saw VDB place second in the 2003 Tour of Flanders.
These incidents gave the 33-year-old plenty of material to fill the 342-page tome. "I have had a tumultuous life; I have so much to write."
Vandenbroucke has struggled with drugs and depression for several years, and his downward spiral hit rock bottom last year when he tried to commit suicide. He pulls no punches in the book, describing his two attempts in detail. "That was the hardest," he told the Belgian paper. "I had my doubts about telling that, because it can be shocking."
Now that Vandenbroucke has aired the details of his troubled life, he is hoping to be able to focus on being a father to his daughter from his failed marriage. But he is not worrying about getting back to racing quite yet. Until then, he hopes the book will have a message for some younger riders: "Do not make the same mistakes as I did."
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