Thank god for Cyclingnews.com (never thought I'd say that after 2006), which had the decency to cover the funeral of VDB yesterday. Velonews.com, however, couldn't be bothered to even note that VDB was interred in the family crypt and finally put to rest.
I happened to have an 11 year-old copy of VeloNews by my desk, because it was the first one in which my writing was paid for and published. And ironically, that issue also contained the 1998 Paris-Nice coverage. Well, needless to say, we know who won: VDB - but if you read the article, and the headlines from that issue of VN, and then compared it to the disdain, disrespect and utter contempt with which VN covered VDB's death, if you are a fan of the sport, it's traditions and know of the world before The Lance, I would hope that their conducts disgusts and revolts you, or at least makes you angry.
Fine, Cyclingnews did a great job covering the funeral. But VeloNews - CN's erst-while competitor - didn't even mention it!!! That ****es me off to no end. Irrational or not, it really ****es me off. In fact, despite all of the ongoing VDB-like drama in my own life (Which I thankfully keep behind closed doors), I spent an hour last night writing a letter to "The Editor" at VN taking them to task for the coverage they gave VDB when they described him as "Belgium’s new star *Vandenbroucke* unbeatable in Race to the Sun." (VeloNews Volume 27, Number 5, March 30, 1998)
Classic media opportunism...they devote hundreds of words to VDB when they want to crown him king-apparent, then, eleven years later, with his brilliance long-since tarnished by hardly-unusual scrapes with the doping police, and a fall from grace made ten-times worse by the mental illness from which VDB clearly suffered - the hijos de putas editing VeloNews on the weekends can't even note on their webpage that he had finally been laid to rest (and honored a who's-who of Belgian cycling, including Van Petegem, Museeuw and Patrick Lefevere).
If you want to read what I wrote and see the pictures, jump to my site, here. Otherwise, I reproduce the letter, here. If you're so inclined, use my letter as a template for writing your own, chastising VN. And if you think they did they RIGHT thing, or don't care about VDB and you feel like sharing that with me, bring it on: firstname.lastname@example.org. Only in the cycling "press" in the United States would the funeral of a just-dead 34 year old former star of professional cycling not even be noted...
I’m writing you on Saturday, October 24, 2009, at approximately 6:45PM EST to enquire as to why you’ve thus far failed to publish a report on (or even mention) the funeral of Frank Vandenbroucke, which was held today in Ploegsteert, Belgium. Elsewhere, we learn that VDB’s funeral was attended by a veritable who’s-who of the Belgian cycling world - Patrick Lefevere, Wilfried Peeters, Johan Museeuw, Leif Hoste and Peter Van Petegem were all in attendance, while VDB’s former Cofidis teammate Nico Mattan acted as a pallbearer. But this doesn’t even rate a mention on VeloNews.com?
In VeloNews Volume 27, Number 5, March 30, 1998, the headlines on the front cover above the VN masthead include “VDB’s Paris-Nice.” Inside, coverage of the “Race to the Sun” begins on page 12, with a half-page color photo of VDB, captioned, “INTO THE SPOTLIGHT Frank Vandenbroucke emerged from a background of promise, through the mist on the Col de la République, to clinch his first major stage race victory in Paris-Nice.” The article itself is titled “Belgium’s new star * Vandenbroucke* unbeatable in Race to the Sun.”
Yet today, eleven years since that first historic win by VDB – one that you were all too eager to cover at the time – you can’t manifest the common decency and respect to mention somewhere on your website that Vandenbroucke the man was finally at peace? Steve Hood wrote that Paris-Nice article for VeloNews, but in death VDB only merited a translated version of an Agence France Presse wire story on 12 October? Same for the follow-up reports on the cause of his untimely, tragic and senseless death – bland wire pieces?
Eleven years ago you dedicated hundreds of words to Vandenbroucke’s win. And yet today, you can’t even be bothered to mention that the man you then-hailed as “Belgium’s New Star” had finally been laid to rest, the weight of the hope of an entire nation finally off of his shoulders?
I saw that story on one of the European websites, and decided it must be a hideously bad Google translation that I was misunderstanding. It's hard to believe that VDB's friend died in the same hotel. Bad coincidence.
Does anybody know if the results of the European toxicology report ever came out?