Some people simply refuse to recognize when it’s time to step aside.
The latest insult to succession comes from Davide Rebellin, who at the ripe beyond- retirement age of 46, signed a contract to ride with Continental team Natura4Ever-Sovac for the 2018 season.
That means Rebellin now enters his 26th year as a professional cyclist. We’re reminded of the quote from recently retired pro Phil Gaimon. Here’s what he said when he stepped away from the sport, “I had offers from Continental teams that were honestly for more money than I’d ever made from cycling. But I looked at all these young, fast kids, and they are me when I was 23. I could take the offer, but it would be a job for me and it would be a dream for them. It wouldn’t feel right taking those spots.”
Rebellin obviously doesn’t have that level of empathy. He’s 15 years older than Gaimon when the American retired but he’s more than happy to take a job from some young, fast kid of 23.
Now, granted, Rebellin was a far more talented rider than career domestique Gaimon. In his heyday, the Italian was one of the top classics stars in the pro peloton. He won Tirreno-Adriatico, Paris-Nice, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Clasica de San Sebastian, La Fleche Wallonne and the Amstel Gold Race.
As a faded star, it must be hard to step away from the sport but he’s been out of the bright lights since 2008 then he was stripped of his silver medal in the road race at the Beijing Olympics because of doping. He was also banned from the sport from 2009 to 2011.
Since then he’s been a black sheep, backpedaling his way down the ladder of pro cycling. He did four years in the wilderness with CCC Sprandi Polkowice, then the Conti squad Kuwait-Cartucho.es team and now Natura4Ever-Sovac.
While on some level you have to be impressed with his continual passion, Rebellin has no understanding of the phrase “Know when to say when.” If a team from Syria, sponsored by a company that makes rat poison, handed Rebellin a check, he’d take it.
Rebellin is a cycling nomad much like Spaniard Francisco Mancebo, another rider from the last, most recent dark era of doping. After being implicated in Operation Puerto back in 2008, Mancebo has wandered from one low budget squad to another, far from the excitement of racing in Europe on the biggest stages.
Mancebo has since ridden for teams Fercase–Rota dos Móveis, Rock Racing, Heraklion Kastro–Murcia, Realcyclist.com Cycling Team, 5-hour Energy, Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling and now US Continental squad Canyon Bicycles. He’s a big fish in a tiny pond, surrounded by young kids trying to work their way up.
Geoffrey Coupe, team manager of Natura4Ever-Sovac is thrilled to sign the aging Rebellin: “This is a dream come true.” It’s certainly not a dream for all those fast, young 23 year olds. Gaimon stepped aside for them, Rebellin refused.