By Jean-François Quénet in Portimão, Portugal
Davide Rebellin is the only one left from the "golden Italian generation" born in 1971, although he is one year younger than Michele Bartoli, Marco Pantani, Francesco Casagrande and the assimilated Evgeni Berzin who have all made the headlines in the 90s. Rebellin, the quietest of them, will celebrate his 36th birthday in August of this year, ten years after scoring two World Cup wins in a row for Française Des Jeux (in San Sebastián and GP Zurich).
"At the time I wouldn't have thought I'd keep riding for ten more years but I still love this sport," he said just after the finish of the last stage of the Tour of Algarve in Portimão. "My contract with Gerolsteiner ends up this year but for sure I'll ride for another season in 2008, then we'll see. My motivation is intact so far."
It was obvious at the Tour of Algarve where he finished second in the hardest stage after riding very aggressively in the hills and he finished fourth overall. "The course wasn't hard enough for beating Alessandro Petacchi," he added. "This is my first race of the year. I'm not at the best of my condition yet but I'm happy with how I went this week. My program remains the one I prefer; hopefully Paris-Nice, then Milan-Sanremo, the Vuelta Pais Vasco and my three favourite classics."
Rebellin is the only rider to have scored three in a row in the Ardennes Classics: Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2004. He reckons he's not too old for making it again.