Testimony of Giosuè ZenoniWhen I first met the young Davide Rebellin, 17 years old, I didn't need any special intuition to realise that this was a youth with an outstanding athletic profile. The exceptional results he was obtaining spoke for themselves. He won a trustworthy place in the National Team and become an element of reference in the following 15 years of my career.
When selecting, I have always made it a priority to consider the Man before the Athlete. Davide's long and un-interrupted presence in the National Team, producing results of an exceptionally rare quality explains the consideration I had and still have for him.
"An athlete that all National Teams would love to have: a quiet, polite person, ambitious, talented and determined to progress and continually improve. One who understands immediatly and who works hard to achieve his goal." Quotation taken up some years ago, by a journalist who had questioned me about Davide's profile.
Later, I came across Davide again among the professionals and supported him until 2004, the season which was undoubtedly the best of all.
Giosuè Zenoni: Road CyclingTechnical Commissioner in the National Youth category , and Sports Manager of Professional Teams.
Testimony of Giovanni Scaramuzzino RAI JOURNALISTDetermination, guts and a strong will-power to be present, to participate, to arrive and to win: such qualities in a champion are not easy to recognise from the exterior.
As far as Davide Rebellin is concerned, that's not the case. It is certainly not by chance that, among professionals, he has beaten all records of race-attendance: a solitary breakaway started a long time ago, when just the hope of getting to the finish line was hypothetical.
Among ups and downs, falls and rebounds, Davide and his bike have been a focal point in the last 30 years of cycling. He began cycling at a time when pedals still had foot-rests and shoes still had laces. No need to mention the mechanical and electronic evolution that has occurred since then. In the mean time the century has changed, the millenium too.
Splash of water from a flask of water will remove sweat from his forehead but cannot eliminate memories, whether good or bad. Many cyclists of his generation have become part of the past but not Davide: to understand the reason for this, it is essential to understand the Man rather than the Athlete.
My impression is that it has always been more difficult for him to talk about himself personally than to prepare himself physically for a 200km race!
In cycling, notably an individual sport, Davide has always been alone but never self-centered: on the contrary.
I remember him when, descending from the podium, he kindly offered his flowers to a boy.
Over the years, he has generously given much advice to collegues (many of an age to be his own son) on the preparation and the correct approach to racing. After many years and much pedalling, cycling as a sport has certainly changed a lot but not so the "silent enthousiasm" of Rebellin.
A strong passion hardly visible but deeply cultivated, often expressed by a half-hidden smile.
Testimony of Niccolò BonifazioI was an amateur cyclist at the time and had won my first race. I live at the top of Capo Berta and often train around SanRemo and Ventimiglia.
It was a Tuesday morning, my first outing after this success and I thought I was in excellent form.
I was on the way to Bordighera and Davide was just leaving the roundabout so I followed him. After a short while I asked: "Do you mind if I follow you?". I know that this upsets some professionals: but Davide kindly replied: "No that 's fine. I am just starting some 'medio' training".
We started up towards Seborga, I felt fine but after 5mns began to feel the fatigue coming. The 'medio' is a way of pedalling during which your body accumulates lactic acid but manages to eliminate it correctly. Davide was doing this work and I was trying to keep up!
At about half-way up the hill, I began to loose all feeling in my legs and Davide was well ahead whereas I was getting more and more out of breath; I asked myself: How come that I am at my limit but he was only doing 'medio' work. If he was not accumulating lactic acid, that meant the he was not at his maximum! How could I ever be as strong? I felt quite hopeless !
He continued ahead and I followed more slowly to the top. Davide was waiting for me there even though he didn't know who I was and asked to join him for a coffee. That's how we started talkIng and got to know each other better. After winning a few more amateur races, he wrote to congratulate me and this made me so happy.
About a year later I was propulsed into the professional world and we met again in the same category, with a 22 year age difference: I had greatly improved by disciplined training and a rigid diet. We sometimes trained together and even in winter, when I wanted to train hard, I only had to call Davide! I only had to phone him the day before, leaving a message such as:"Ciao Davide, all well? eaten well? slept well? because tomorrow if we train together I will Attack you... and in that way the trainging was easier.
I remember once when at full speed up a slope near Sanremo, my friend Oliviero said: "Nicolo', shall we attack Davide?". I replied: "No, no better not!" but in the end we did... We sped up the hill and arrived at full speed. At the top my cardio showed more than 205 beats a minute. Davide was keeping up, just behind. For once he said: "this time you have made me work hard!" But I was impressed and said to myself " this man really is a war-machine"! Some time later, during the "Trittico Lombardo", one of the races was the Coppa Agostini, that I had won the previous year. I was in excellent form and expected to win again this year, even though the route was different, with three extra circuits and climbs and a great height difference for my capacity.
I felt fine. During the final circuit, Astana with Nibali decided to attack on the slope: I tried to defend myself and gave my maximum. But the leaders had sped ahead. Vincenzo Nibali, Michele Scarponi and Davide Rebellin. They were one minute ahead and had taken the slope in one sprint.
I remained attached to the a small group of 25 who were behing these three: their advantage was reducing as the final sprint approached. Only 300m to go and Nibali and Rebellin were 100m ahead, whereas Scarponi had given up. The sprint was imminent. I was at my maximum right up to the finish line: I then looked up and avoided Nibali and then Davide... at that moment I thought: so the "old" man has won and overridden us all! I feel greatly honoured to have seen him in full action, up on the pedals, his speciality.
Davide... someone who has an impressive and unlimited determination and motivation!
Someone who never gives up, who has such a sense of purpose, one who manages to find a speck of white even when the whole picture is black... one with so much humility and such class. A man who understands perfectly the word "sacrifice", never making even one exception!
A man who has become my Example. I would like to be like him. Often mental strength counts more than physical strength.
Niccolo' Bonifazio, professional cyclist.
Testimony of Gianni TebaldoDavide was part of our cycling team, RIBOLI-ora-CONTRI AUTOZAI of which I was president, during 1988/89, but he was already cycling with us in 1987 on a training course in Palma de Majorque. His brother Simone was also cycling with us. All the children were considered as part of the family. A serene climate in spite of the constant fatigue... Davide always showed humility and generosity, but at the same time was always ready for challenges and extreme efforts, kind to everyone but determined and strongly believing in his own ideas and capacities. An example for all!
With him we reached a maximum sportive level during the Italian Championship individual time trial in Broni, and in the world time trial in Moscow in 1989, as well as in many other race stages in the Italian National and in so many other victories.
One pleasant memory... at Palma, during training with other young cyclists in the Opel Vighini, there was a very strong wind and the youngsters were left behind by the amateurs. Davide was the only one to resist and the world time trial champion Eros Poli, who was part of the group, expressed his admiration "Incredible! Are you really still with us? that's amazing !!!" impressed by the tenacity of the youngster...
Davide has been part of our life story, not only as a cyclist but also on a personal level, made up of trials, ups and downs of life for him as for us. A trusted friend and confident to our dear Beatrice*. They shared the same hopes and problems of yougsters of their age and were both great admirers of Eros Ramazzoti. At the start and finish of each race (even when he was in a foreign country), Davide used to telephon or came personally to see Beatrice when possible. We still keep a dedicated photograph and the doll he brought back from Japan.
Even today, it is with great pleasure that we receive phone calls or visits from Davide and news of his professional and private life. Forza Davide! After all the gruelling battles, you have at last a fantastique wife who supports and satisfies all your efforts and sacrifices...
We wish you both the very best for the present and future!
Gianni and Luigina Tebaldo
* Luigina and Gianni's daughter who was ill and died during her adolescence