He is now 47 years old. If he completes the 2019 season in the professional peloton he will he will end it at the ripe age of 48. We’re talking about Davide Rebellin of course, the oldest Italian warrior in the peloton, and a rider who simply can’t say the word ‘stop’. Just like in 2018, he will ride for the Algerian team Sovac, which rides in Continental league races. His team mostly enters smaller races in Africa and Europe, but Rebellin doesn’t mind at all.

Davide Rebellin is a pure enthusiast

He says it often himself: Rebellin is still enthusiastic and loves his sport. It’s not about breaking records for him now, he just wants to keep on racing until his heart and legs tell him he has to stop. Ideally, he would like to do that during a major race. But the chance of a wild card for his team is pretty remote.

You could certainly write a book about Rebellin’s career. Better yet, how about an entire encyclopaedia? This man has gone through just about everything a professional cyclist can go through. He was banned after a positive doping test following the 2008 Olympic Games; he has ended in the top 10 of various major stage races; and he has won various minor races such as the Paris–Nice. But we know of him mainly as a specialist in the Spring Classics.

Davide Rebellin

Rebellin hunting down Michael Boogerd during Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2004. Photograph: Cor Vos.

The best year in Rebellin’s career was without a doubt 2004. He won the Amstel Gold Race, the Waalse Pijl and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. These are the type of races that are very well suited to Rebellin—in 1994 he proved this by finishing 5th in the Amstel Gold Race. And in 2000 he was third in Liège–Bastogn–Liège, climbing the podium for the first time.

Davide Rebellin

Boogert feeling the heat of Rebellin’s attack. Photograph: Cor Vos.

At the peak of his career, if Rebellin entered a race he usually rode well. If he didn’t win, or climb onto the podium, he would generally be in the top end of the rankings. That’s why he was often ranked high in the UCI points classification at the end of the year.

Davide Rebellin

Davide Rebellin in 2018, Photograph: Cor Vos.

His most recent major victory dates from 2009, when he won the Waalse Pijl (also known as La Flèche Wallonne). Since then he has ridden mainly for minor prizes. In 2018 he won the virtually unknown Tour International de a Wilaya d’Oran in Algeria. He also won the Tour of Ijen, a one-day race in Indonesia. His best race days are clearly behind him, but it’s still heartwarming to see that he enjoys his sport so much. And that makes him an example for everyone riding in today’s peloton—even if some of them were in nappies when Rebellin began his professional bike racing career.