An interview with Davide Rebellin, September 25, 2004
While training near Buenos Aires, waiting for his identity document to be delivered that will for the first time see World Cup leader and Verona favourite Davide Rebellin competing under the Argentinean flag, Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez Macias met with a man determined to turn tragedy into triumph.
He also prevailed in two stages in the Sachsen-Tour International, with his most recent win at the Trofeo Melinda. Yet despite these outstanding performances, Italy's national coach Franco Ballerini didn't select him for the Athens Olympic Games nor the World Championships in Verona, which some consider a tragedy. It just so happens the scene of another tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, is very near the town where he was born, in San Bonifacio.
"If I win in Verona, it will be Argentina's medal"
However, Davide Rebellin didn't give up. There was a slim chance he could ride in his beloved Veneto, though not under the Italian tricolore, but the colours of Argentina. Rebellin didn't hesitate a second - and flew straight to South America.
Cyclingnews: How did this idea of becoming Argentinean come about?
Davide Rebellin: I cannot compete for Italy at the next World Championships. I couldn't ride at the last World Championships or Olympic Games either. I don't know why they didn't name me. So, I decided to speak with Gabriel Curuchet, who is the president of the Argentinean Cycling Union (UCRA). I also discussed with some Argentinean authorities to see if it is possible to represent Argentina in the coming World's and in other important races.
CN: Why did you think of Argentina and not another country?
DR: I know Gabriel Curuchet and he told me there was a chance of getting citizenship in Argentina. This is a country full of Italians; there are many Italians from my region who live now here and I think it is the right nation for me. The problem is that I don't have relatives here, but it was a decision taken because of my sporting merits, for my sporting achievements.
CN: How are you preparing for the World's in Verona?
DR: I am feeling very good. I won a race in Italy [the Trofeo Melinda on September 2]. I have a competition next Saturday [the Giro dell'Emilia]. I am in very good condition and I hope I do well on October 3.
CN: If you happen to win in Verona, will you celebrate the triumph in a special way?
DR: It would be a marvellous thing. If I win in Verona, it will be Argentina's medal because they gave me the possibility of racing and I would dedicate the victory to Argentina.
CN: You've got fantastic results this year like the three consecutive victories on April...
DR: Yes, that's in the record books - three triumphs in a week. Now I am the leader of the World Cup and after the World Championships, there are two decisive races for the overall. I want to win the World Cup's general classification, too.
CN: So, you will ride the Paris-Tours and the Tour of Lombardy?
DR: Yes, that's for sure. These two races are crucial for the [overall] World Cup.
CN: You have a big chance of winning the Cup because or your position on the classification. Do you agree?
DR: Yes, I am currently first on the classification, but [Paolo] Bettini is second, just six points less than me. These are few points, but I will do my best to win the competition.
CN: This season is about to end; what are you thinking about 2005?
DR: Next season, I will ride the same classics I raced this year. The Pro Tour begins in 2005, although few things will change.
CN: By the way, what do you think about the Pro Tour?
DR: I think it will be a new thing for cycling, a thing for the improvement of cycling. I think it will give more prestige to the most important races and I believe that will be a good thing. I don't know what the rules of the series are, but I think it will be important and very interesting too.
CN: Are you planning to ride the next Giro d'Italia?
DR: I don't know whether I will ride the Giro or the Tour de France. As we decide what to race on December, we will see then what we do in the next season.
CN: Do you consider racing the 2005 Vuelta a Argentina?
DR: I think so. I spoke with the people in my team, Gerolsteiner, and they told me they will certainly come to Argentina to compete in the Vuelta. I don't know if there are more important races on schedule in Europe [the Vuelta a Argentina will held be held from late February to early March], I guess not. I think it's important for me to be here in Argentina for this race.
CN: Would you like to take part in the Pan-American Games next year?
DR: Yes, sure. It's an important championship and I would like to compete there.
Editor's note: On Thursday, September 23, Davide Rebellin was successful in his application for Argentinean citizenship. The Argentine authorities gave his case special consideration on the grounds that he would be a sporting asset to the South American nation, and Rebellin provided all the legal paperwork demanded of him, receiving his new papers on Thursday.