Speak His Name and He Shall Appear (or Disappear)

Yesterday, I mentioned Frank Vandenbrouke, everyone’s favorite problem man-child. Today, his Mr. Bookmaker squad secured its golden ticket to ride in the Tour of Flanders, the stage that could have catapulted a motivated Vandenbrouke back onto the public eye in something more than a punchline capacity. But a motivated Vandenbrouke has been a scarce commodity for years.

Whether or not Mr. Bookmaker got an invite to the big show, VDB had already long since renounced any intention of riding the spring classics due to lack of form. So today, he backed off even further, announcing that he’s having problems with an infected Achilles tendon, and won’t be able to start his season at the Tour of Murcia (Spain) as planned. Now sure, he may really be injured and in need of his planned six days of treatment back in Belgium. But the guy has burned through so many excuses---from the legitimate, to the illegitimate, to the absurd---that nobody seems to be able to take him seriously.

So, riding or not VDB continues to entertain a nation and the cycling world. Under the “not entertained” category, we have his director sportive, Lucien Van Impe, who told Sportwereld (roughly translated), “I think Frank needs to finally take some responsibility. We’re fast approaching mid-March and he still hasn’t raced a meter. Hilaire (Van Schueren, the team manager) might think that I’m from the old mold, that Frank deserves a more gentle treatment, but that’s the way I am.”

According to Van Schueren, VDB will continue to ride during his treatment, but three hours rather than five. Asked whether the world can still believe in VDB, Van Schueren is still shockingly optimistic, “That doesn’t interest me. First I have to (believe in him), then the rest follows.”

Maybe I’m from the old mold, too, but I’m with Van Impe---give him a hiding.