Just three days ago, ex-professional cyclist Davide Rebellin started a race in Monaco, now he's dead. The 51-year-old collided with a truck on an exit. Italy's national coach is stunned.
The cyclist and former professional of the Gerolsteiner racing team Davide Rebellin died in a training accident. The 51-year-old died on Wednesday in the northern Italian town of Montebello Vicentino, as the Carabinieri confirmed.
According to initial findings reported by the Italian media, the athlete collided with a truck as it turned onto the road. Rebellin was apparently dead on the spot. The truck then moved away from the scene of the accident - the driver may not have noticed the collision, they said. The authorities did not initially give any further details.
The veteran cyclist only ended his long active career this season and drove a charity invitation race in the Principality of Monaco at the weekend. There he competed against stars such as ex-world champions Philippe Gilbert and Peter Sagan as well as two-time tour winner Tadej Pogacar.
Rebellin was a specialist in one-day races and in 2004 he won the classic Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the German team Gerolsteiner within a week. In 1996 he also won a stage of the Giro d'Italia.
Later, however, he wrote negative headlines when he was stripped of his Olympic silver medal in Beijing in 2008 because of doping. Follow-up checks in April 2009 had convicted him of taking the blood doping drug Cera. He was banned for two years, but always denied doping offenses and fraud to the end. After his doping ban, Rebellin remained active for smaller teams, most recently for the third-class racing team Work Service-Vitalcare-Dynatek.
"Please tell me that's not true," tweeted Italy national team coach and ex-professional Daniele Bennati in response to the accident. "I am shocked and saddened by the news of the tragic death of Davide Rebellin, who caused so much emotion for sports fans during his long professional career," said Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Many cycling stars also expressed their condolences: "I didn't want to believe the news, it was a real shock. He was a true friend and a great professional," said recently retired ex-Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali. Former world champion Alejandro Valverde of Spain wrote on Twitter: "He was a colleague and my rival for so many years."
Rebellin was not the first Italian professional cyclist to die in a truck accident. Former Giro d'Italia winner Michele Scarponi was also run over and killed by a van during a training session in April 2017 at the age of 37.