CT presents: Il Vecchio Saggio – A portrait of Davide Rebellin

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Now that the road season is finished we’re happy to bring you some new cycling documentaries to keep you occupied during the various stages of lockdown you might be going through.

Il Vecchio Saggio (The Wise Old Man) is a film about Davide Rebellin from our friends at La Bordure in France. It feels like yesterday when he won the unprecedented treble with wins in Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège back in 2004. He was later caught for doping after the Beijing Olympics and served a two year suspension. After returning to second rate teams, he’s now 49 years old and still racing.

Il Vecchio Saggio takes us into the mind of the oldest man competing in the pro peloton.

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Il Vecchio Saggio (The Wise Old Man)

Paradise. Hell. Purgatory. Davide Rebellin has gone through it all.

Celebrated as a talented racer during his historic triple in the Ardennes classics, the Italian fell after his positive test at the Beijing Olympics. His bronze medal would have a bitter aftertaste, that of the 90’s in which he belongs. Rebellin contests but returns his medal and serves a two year of suspension for entering pro cycling at the same time as EPO did.

In a sport that discards its black sheep and welcomes back others, Rebellin finds refuge in a modest Polish team upon his return and skims the minor races while former colleagues Basso, Scarponi and Di Luca came back to the top level unscathed.

The years go by and on the road to redemption, the Venetian ends up stranded on the other side of the Mediterranean. An Algerian team takes in the repentant Catholic without a contract. With neither air-conditioned bus nor energy bars, Rebellin stocks up on dates from the hills of Oran and turns his legs, sometimes 6 to 7 hours in a single day.

In the peloton, while rubbing against riders of whom he could be the father, Rebellin never forgets to remove his glasses at key moments of the race to gain clarity, as in 2004, in the wall of Huy . A resolute morning gaze of this touching fragility which earned him, in his early days, a nickname: “Il Chierichetto” (“the choirboy”).

Wrinkles have now carved out furrows on the face, and his style is now less explosive. Davide has aged. He is 47 years old at the time of filming. On the starting line, some admire him, others sigh.

What can Davide still win? The ambition? Passion? The fear? Or the search for forgiveness?


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