A short minute in front of the peloton, the time to collect the applause of his peers and the public present behind the barriers, before setting off for his final race.
On October 16, Davide Rebellin finally said goodbye to the world of professional cycling.
At the Veneto Classic, in his native region, the Italian completes three decades of professional career at 51 years old.
A retirement unfortunately of too short duration.
The ex-runner died early Wednesday afternoon in Montebello Vicentino, hit by a truck on a road in this small town between Verona and Vicenza while on a training run.
Davide Rebellin is a career in two stages.
That of the first years, marked by participation in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and six days spent with the pink jersey on the Giro in 1996 in the wake of his only stage victory on a Grand Tour.
So at Polti, this discreet Italian in everyday life was noticed by the Frenchman Marc Madiot, who recruited him to his team at La Française des Jeux, where he only spent one year in 1997.
“It was hard not to spot him, because he was a young performer in his Italian team, says the tricolor manager, contacted after the death of the Transalpin.
I remember a very nice guy, very respectful.
A really nice guy.
Rebellin wins the Clasica San Sebastian in the colors of the French team, but still multiplies the places of honor too much.
The explosion, the real one, will come with the Gerolsteiner, which he joined in 2002.
A historic hat-trick in the Ardennes
Within the German team, the Transalpin writes history.
In 2004, he became the first runner to win the three Ardennes classics in the same year: the Amstel Gold Race, the Flèche Wallonne and his only monument, Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Only the Belgian Philippe Gilbert will imitate him in 2011. At 33, the Italian is at his best.
In 2008, he won in Paris-Nice before taking the Olympic silver medal in the road race at the Beijing Games.
"It's the victory of clean cycling," he proclaims in China.
The blood sample taken that day will give a sadly offbeat tone to this statement.
Tested positive for EPO Cera, said to be third generation like his ex-partner of the very sulphurous Gerolsteiner Stefan Schumacher, Rebellin was suspended for two years by the Italian National Olympic Committee.
Lui denies, while sample B confirms taking the substance.
No one is really surprised in the peloton, given the pedigree of his former training, who disappeared the previous year with his decried practices, and that of the person concerned.
In 2001, he was filmed with his wife talking with the very controversial doctor Enrico Lazzaro.
Italian justice released him in 2005.
“I had the door closed everywhere”
Davide Rebellin is serving his two-year suspension, and is attempting a comeback in 2011, at age 40.
But Rebellin is too old, his image too damaged.
“It bothered me a lot in my career, he explained in 2016, still marked.
After having served my suspension, I resumed in small teams because I had the door closed everywhere, especially in the big formations.
While other former suspended like Alejandro Valverde finds World Tour teams, he goes where we want him.
In 2015, while playing for CCC Sprandi Polkowice, an Italian court cleared him.
Small consolation, because the legal decision is not recognized by the sporting world, which will prevent him from recovering his Olympic silver medal.
The rider hangs on, from small team to small team, with the hope of winning a new classic.
He won the Giro dell'Emilia in 2014 and the Coppa Agostoni the following year, aged 44.
“I follow him a bit on social networks and I see everything he puts in place in terms of food, training.
He seems to be an outstanding professional”, greets, admiringly, the Frenchman Romain Bardet in 2016.
A documentary dedicated to his career in 2019
Further and further from the elite of the World Tour, Davide Rebellin rides in Iran or in Africa.
A documentary, “Il Vecchio Saggio” (“The Old Sage) is dedicated to him in 2019. We believe him each time at the end of the race, but he continues again and again.
Until October 2022, for his last professional race.
"I kept racing for so many years partly because of that two-year suspension," he told Cycling News shortly after retiring.
This cycling enthusiast was again this weekend in Monaco, where he lived, to line up in a criterium alongside runners of whom he could have been the father.
On Wednesday, he rode his saddle one last time.
Until this road tiste and Montebello Vicentino.