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The long, strange career of Davide Rebellin, who swept the 2004 Ardennes Classics

Italian's 28 pro seasons include big wins, doping bans and ten straight Grand Tour DNFs

Photo by: Sirotti

On Wednesday morning, Italy’s Davide Rebellin was killed by a truck driver, hit in Montebello Vicentino in Vicenza while out riding his bike.

The police are investigating and looking for the driver, who fled the scene. Rebellin retired must a month ago with his last  pro race being the Veneto Cup in Italy. He raced an exhibition crit in Monaco on

After retiring at 51, Davide Rebellin killed by truck driver in Italy

Carrying on with what might be sheer cussedness, Rebellin is getting better known for his longevity than his incredible feat of sweeping the 2006 Ardennes Classics, winning Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege from April 18-24. Until Philippe Gilbert matched the feat in 2011–taking Brabantse Pijl beforehand–the Italian was the only rider to have accomplished the sweep.

Rebellin beats Michael Boogerd on the Cauberg to win Amstel Gold.

In Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Rabobank’s Michael Boogerd was runner-up to Gerolsteiner’s Rebellin, with the Italian using a smaller gear to beat the Dutchman on the Cauberg in the Netherlands and then in La Doyenne letting Boogerd drag him up to Vinokourov after the Kazakh attacked on the descent of the Ans.

Rebellin had stamped his mark on pro cycling in 1996 when he won the seventh stage of the Giro d’Italia while wearing the garish colours of Polti. His victory put him in the pink jersey–ultimately Pavel Tonkov’s–for six stages before he came sixth overall. He also was seventh in that year’s Vuelta a España.

In the 1996 Giro, Rebellin proves once again that pink doesn’t go with yellow and green.

Rebellin would find his Classics legs in Liquigas-Pata colours, coming third to Paolo Bettini and David Etxebarria in the 2000 Liege-Bastogne-Liege and then placing runner-up to Oscar Camenzind in the 2001 edition, this time finishing just ahead of Etxebarria. His first big stage race GC victory came in 2001’s Tirreno-Adriatico–Boogerd was third.

In the light blue of Gerolsteiner he would be runner up to Michele Bartoli in the 2002 Il Lombardia.

After the 2004 Ardennes Sweep, his career hit a lull, until he won La Fleche Wallonne again in 2007, this time with Alejandro Valverde the runner-up. The next season would see the heights of a winner’s trophy at Paris-Nice and a silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games road race. But soon after his La Fleche Wallonne hat trick in 2009 as a member of Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli, the Italian Olympic committee announced that he was one of six athletes the International Olympic Committee had found using banned substances in Beijing.

Rebellin would serve a two-year ban for third generation EPO CERA and find a way back into the pro peloton in 2011 at age 39 with Italian Continental unit Miche-Guerciotti. That season he won Tre Valli Varesine for the second time, this time beating out Domenico Pozzovivo and Thibaut Pinot; Canada’s David Veilleux would take the next edition. Four years with the “Polish Carrots” of CCC (2013-2016) bore the fruits of a second Giro dell’Emilia title in 2014; Michael Woods was that race’s runner-up last season.

Rebellin’s last significant win was the 2014 Giro dell’Emilia, his second title, with CCC.

Having been knocking around with Pro Continental and Continental squads for the last nine seasons, it’s not a surprise that Rebellin started the last of his 19 Grand Tours back in 2008. What might be surprising is that for a fellow announced himself at the 1996 Giro, he was historically bad at finishing Grand Tours. He climbed off the bike in his last ten Grand Tours and 11 of the last 12, placing runner-up on four stages along the way.

Having rejoined Meridiana Kamen last season after having started 2019 with Algerian Sovac team, Rebellin announced his retirement, with late-September’s Trofeo Matteotti meant to be his final race. In his third year with Meridiana Kamen, Rebellin had two race days under his belt before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season.

The past two years Rebellin raced for the continental team, Work Service Vitalcare Vega. In 2022 one of his best results was 11th overall at the Adriatica Ionica Race.