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Writing in Tuttobici on Thursday, the Italian writer Marco Pastonesi summed up the longevity and the aura of the late Davide Rebellin as only he can.
“He seemed eternal, Rebellin: he raced against the sons of his first rivals. And he beat them,” Pastonesi wrote. “He seemed mystical, Rebellin: he always competed with himself, not against himself. And he won.”
Rebellin’s tragic death on Wednesday robbed a man and his family of the opportunity to enjoy his retirement.
The 51-year-old had only stopped his professional career at the Veneto Classic in October, but the bike was always going to remain a fixture in his life.
Devastatingly, a bike ride was the final act of that life. Rebellin was killed by a truck whose driver failed to stop at the scene of the tragedy.
Rebellin’s palmarès as a rider included Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Flèche Wallonne, Amstel Gold Race, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and a stage of the Giro d’Italia. The story of his career also included being stripped of an Olympic medal for doping.
In time, however, the quiet but remarkable persistence of his last decade in the peloton seemed to supersede consideration of the earlier highs and lows of a career that straddled several tumultuous eras of professional cycling.
In the gallery above, Cyclingnews looks back through Rebellin’s cycling life, from his emergence as a talented amateur in the late 1980s to his thirty seasons as a professional.