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Truck driver who killed Rebellin has stroke, trial delayed

Wolfgang Rieke is in hospital and hearing scheduled for the death of the Italian cyclist has been suspended

Truck driver who killed Rebellin has stroke, trial delayed Photo by: Sirotti

Wolfgang Rieke, the German truck driver responsible for the death of Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin, is hospitalized in serious condition at Ca’ Foncello Hospital in Treviso due to an ischemic stroke. As a result, the court hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Vicenza has been suspended.
The trial against Rieke was set to continue, Monday, in Vicenza, where the examination of expert reports from the accident scene and the truck was expected. However, following his stroke on Monday night, Rieke’s lawyers have filed a request for postponement, citing a legitimate obstacle, which will be reviewed this afternoon.

Court was pushing trial ahead after settlement request

Previously, on March 11, the Vicenza court had rejected a settlement request from Rieke’s lawyers, thereby allowing the trial to proceed. Rieke, who hit and killed Rebellin during a training ride in November 2022 in the Veneto region, fled the scene and surrendered to authorities seven months later. He was detained in Vicenza prison and later placed under house arrest in Treviso.

The investigation, involving surveillance footage, witness statements, and collaboration with authorities in Austria, Slovenia, and Germany, confirmed Rieke’s involvement in the accident. It was revealed that he approached Rebellin after the collision but then left the scene. He faces charges of causing death on the road and failing to render assistance. The Rebellin family received 825,000 euro in compensation through an insurance company.

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

A long career

Rebellin turned professional in 1992 and enjoyed a career spanning nearly three decades. The Italian specialized in one-day classics, taking notable victories in prestigious races such as the Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne (three times), and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Despite a doping controversy in 2008, which temporarily tarnished his reputation, Rebellin continued competing until 2022. He initially won a silver medal in the road race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However he was later stripped of this medal after testing positive for a banned substance, CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator). This doping violation led to the annulment of his Olympic result.

Following his death, his partner Françoise Antonini posted a heart-wrenching message to her love.

A great cyclist lost

“My Angel, my great love, imagining my life without you tears me apart. The horror of what you have been through tears me apart,” Antonini posted. “Continuing to know that we will never see each other again. We will never speak to each other again. We will never be able to wake up again in each other’s arms, it tears me apart. Not making the energy bars you loved so much it destroys me. Our beautiful plans as a couple, which were finally taking shape now that your demanding career was over. Over, and which will never come true, it tears me apart.”

His last race in his native Italy was the Veneto Classic, held on October 16, 2022, just a month before he was killed. It was also in the same area in which the collision occurred.