Rebellin. Not leaving just yet.
The news, disheartening and inspiring in some weird way, is that Davide Rebellin, old school and unrepentant doper is not retiring at age 44.
He should retire, crawl under a rock, never utter another word on cycling and be done. But, no, he ignores all sense of propriety and accumulated shame and said no, not retiring, got new contract.
He announced that he will do yet another year at CCC Sprandi – Polkowice — which must be Polish for half-way house or deaf to all entreaties.
In 2015 he had wins the Coppa Agostoni and in a stage at the Tour of Turkey and a bunch of other, smaller results. Apparently, he can still pedal a bike with some high level of speed and endurance.
According to Rebellin, his heart will simply not let him stop and the dark stain must remain in full evidence. “The heart always has the last world. I saw that the body and head are still ready for new battles: full speed ahead for a new season and beautiful emotions that we can share together,” he wrote on his Facebook page.”
Well, on some level you have to hand it to the ageless offender. As a man in his fifties, I have be impressed with anyone who is still competitive and still has a passion for bike racing. He’s a freak the way American Chris Horner — also age 44 — is a freak. Somehow, someway, they just keep turning the riding and you have to respect the focus and insane willingness to do the volume and intensity training to stay in the peloton.
Then again, Jesus, will you just please go away? Can’t you take one look around and see that the dark cloud of doping is still hanging over the sport of pro cycling? Do you really insist on being a negative, damaging influence for young riders and potential sponsors? Your presence offends, Dave.
The sick irony of Rebellin’s excitement for “new battles” is that it’s the same old battle. Doping, dopers, bad press, wary sponsors, a fragile sport. The battle is to get people like Rebellin out of the sport and far, far away.
Rebellin writes of a “23-year career with its ups and downs” and I don’t know what exactly he means by downs but getting popped for CERA EPO at the 2008 Olympics would certainly qualify.
He also speaks of his “enthusiasm of a child.” We’re happy for his boundless fountain of positive vibrations but really, he was also pretty enthusiastic about working with evil Doctor Ferrari.
Last year in the Giro, they invited his team but not Rebellin who was persona non grata. We wish we could extend that non grata to the whole sport of pro cycling.