Frank Vandenbrouke dies. An echo of Marco Pantani.

Frank Vandenbrouke

Frank Vandenbrouke

The terrible news of Belgian cyclist Frank Vandenbrouke’s death immediately reminded us of another tortured soul, Marco Pantani.

If you go back and read the opening paragraph in each of these news stories, there’s a sad and eerie similarity:

“Marco Pantani was found dead in room 5D in the Le Rose residence hotel in Rimini, Italy.” “Frank Vandenbroucke has died while on holiday in Senegal. The 34-year-old Belgian cyclist was found in his hotel room.”

They were prodigies, national heroes, idolized in Italy and Belgium. But then came the doping suspensions and the steady downward spiral as they suffered trying to regain their former glory.

Friends did the best they could while cycling fans around the world watched the tragic fall. Even at a great distance it was heart-breaking to see.

They both died lost and alone in a hotel room. Vandenbroucke said not long ago that “all that counts is the language of the pedals.” For Frank and Marco the simple joy they once felt riding a bike had gone and sadly there was nothing left to say.

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  1. Also an echo of Fausto Coppi who died after a trip to nearby Upper Volta