Tuesday, October 20, 2009

VDB Funeral this Saturday

According to CyclingNews.com, Frank Vanbenbroucke will be laid to rest at a private funeral to be held Saturday in Ploegsteert, Belgium. The 34-year-old died last week in Saly, Senegal, and the ceremony will be followed by a burial in the family vault in a nearby cemetery. For our Spanish-speaking readers:

El funeral de Frank Vandenbroucke tendrá lugar el sábado en Ploegsteert El entierro del ciclista belga Frank Vanbenbroucke se realizará el sábado a las 11:00 en Ploegsteer. La ceremonia será seguida por el entierro en el panteón familiar en el cementerio de la provincia. Los padres del ciclista han solicitado que la ceremonia tenga lugar en la más estricta intimidad en la iglesia por lo que una pantalla gigante se levantará fuera de la iglesia.

Whilst perusing the archives, I came across this shot of VDB (then riding for Quick Step and trailed by team boss Patrick Lefevere), after stage 3 of the 2003 Tour of the Mediterranean, in La Motte, France:

Contrast VDB's blood-shot eyes and almost-smile, with the epic effort Lefevere might be making to suppress a grin and conceal the pleasure one might feel upon realizing just how well his young charge might be responding to - The Charge - that would see him through to a brilliant second-place at that year's Tour of Flanders. All speculation, of course, but Lefevre - who admitted to abusing amphetamines while a rider - was accused by the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws of involvement in the doping of various riders in articles titled "Patrick Lefevre, 30 years of doping."

When Cyclingnews covered the story, they reported that Het Laatste Nieuws' key sources for the articles were a former cyclist who raced with Lefevere in the '70s, but is now a convicted criminal serving time, and the director of the race Driedaagse van De Panne (Three Days of De Panne). The other key sources remained anonymous, and there were no revelations of previously unannounced positive dope tests from riders that Lefevere' managed.

The articles claim to review an alleged doping history starting from when the manager was himself a pro cyclist. One source told the newspaper, "Lefevere stopped racing because he was addicted to amphetamines himself" when describing Lefevere's cycling career in the seventies. Another claimed that Lefevere also dealt in doping products.

An Italian doctor that took care of Lefevere's riders during the years of the Mapei-team, featuring Johan Museeuw, also claimed that there was organised use of doping products. "Growth hormone came from the pharmacy, EPO was ordered online. If you wanted to ride a good season, you needed 20,000 to 30,000 euro, including products. Lefevere knew about it, saw it happening and approved it all", said one claim in the newspaper.

The camera rarely lies - at least not when the tale is in the eyes...

Photo - Belgian Quick-Step Davitamon Frank Vandenbroucke (R) and sports director Patrick Lefevere (L) pictured during the third stage of the Mediterranean Tour cycling race, Friday 14 February 2003, in La Motte, France. BELGA PHOTO MICHEL GOUVERNEUR)

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