It was Rebellin’s first win since his return from a two-year suspension after testing positive for CERA at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. His ban ended in April, and the 40-year-old has enjoyed a string of remarkable results this summer since joining Continental outfit Miche-Guerciotti.
Rebellin admitted to Gazzetta dello Sport after the race that he has been tested just three times since his return to competition: “once at my home in Monte Carlo, and twice at races.”
However, Rebellin was reluctant to countenance the notion that many fans would question the credibility of his victory given his sullied reputation.
“It’s always been said that doping shortens your career, and I’m 40 years old,” he said. “The people who know me have always been on my side.”
Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Petrucci has been stringent in his criticism of Rebellin’s return to cycling, but the rider insisted that he was unconcerned by such censure. Rebellin also claimed that even though he handed back his silver medal from the Beijing road race, he still feels views himself as an Olympic medallist.
“He [Petrucci] can express himself as he wishes,” Rebellin said. “I don’t think I’m the cause of cycling's ills.
“For me the matter of Beijing is closed and I don’t want to start a polemic. In my heart I still feel that medal is mine. In any case, I’ve paid and now I have come back like before, only with more anger. Here I’ve shown that an athlete who lives a regular life and has passion can get results.”
As well as being sidelined by suspension, Rebellin has suffered upheaval in his private life over the past two years, as he separated from his wife and manager Selina, and was recently charged with tax evasion by Italian police. Perhaps it was little wonder, then, that his Tre Valli Varesine victory constituted "a liberation."
"It was an explosion of anger," Rebellin said of his shout on crossing the line. “I relived the two most difficult years of my life.”
While Rebellin will focus on the Italian calendar for the remainder of the season, he revealed that he hopes to continue his career at a high level for two more years, with Gazzetta suggesting Astana as a possible destination. Rebellin also maintained that he had grown stronger during his suspension, in spite of his advanced years and lengthy lay-off.
“In these two years, I’ve even improved,” he claimed. “Now on long climbs I can hold on for longer. I still have a pair of good years to show it.”