Davide Rebellin on nonetheless being on the prime of biking aged 50

Rebellin beat one of the best in his prime

At 50, some consider what they did of their lives; others consider what lies forward.

Others absolutely stay within the current – and Davide Rebellin is a kind of. Sitting in his group’s headquarters in Padua, north-east Italy – surrounded by jerseys from his profession hung proudly on the wall – he enthuses in regards to the traits of contemporary biking, the key of his longevity and what nonetheless lies forward for him.

Biking has modified loads within the final many years. The general customary has elevated and races are hard-fought from the primary to the final pedal stroke; athletes observe iron coaching regimes and vitamin tables; dieticians, psychologists and psychological coaches are a part of the sport; information is collected and evaluated in actual time and sport administrators dictate methods, which leaves much less room for riders’ instinct.

Rebellin, who turned 50 just a few days in the past, is aware of all of it. Now on the strong UCI Skilled group Work Service-Marchiol-Vega, his journey has taken in groups from Croatia, Kuwait, Tunisia, Hungary and Cambodia.

The Italian, who has a storied previous at prestigious outfits comparable to GB-MG, Polti, Française des Jeux, Luquigas and Gerolsteiner, can look again at 30 years within the pro-peloton and has lived these modifications in his personal pores and skin.

“Races have develop into very nervous, you possibly can’t chill out at any time, not even for a second. Know-how has moved ahead leaps and bounds, from wheels to aerodynamics and garments.

“Vitamin is one other matter. Years in the past some riders would begin the season with some further kilos, now they’re all in good form. Biking has develop into much more draining.”

Davide Rebellin
Rebellin claims Olympic silver

The flip-side of a youthful peloton

And so the age of the opponents has modified, with riders participating in Grand Excursions of their very early 20s – one thing that will by no means have occurred 20 years in the past. It provides good alternatives for champions like Tadej Pogačar, Egan Bernal and Remco Evenepoel, however it hides a flip aspect too.

“The tempo is excessive, coaching classes extra particular and testing from the psychological perspective, vitamin has develop into an obsession. Have a look at Tom Dumoulin: he is again now [having taken a seven-month career sabbatical], however you possibly can lose vital abilities alongside the best way. At 25 you need to hit the height of your profession already. I did my greatest after I turned 30.”

But when biking has develop into much less enjoyable and extra worrying, what urges an especially profitable 50-year-old rider to proceed?

Rebellin was the primary athlete to win all three Ardennes Classics – the Amstel Gold Race, Lieges-Bastogne-Lieges and Fleche Wallonne inside per week – but with a complete of over 60 skilled successes, he nonetheless has the joy of a kid.

“It is all about ardour. To coach arduous and observe a particular programme is regular for me. I’m a bit anxious about what’s going to come subsequent, as a result of my physique nonetheless calls for it. Need is there and I’ll proceed so long as I’m aggressive and luxuriate in myself. When my time comes I’ll give up.

“Individuals admire me, much more than in my successful days, as a result of they know the way arduous it’s towards youthful riders. I even raced with a few of my outdated opponents’ sons. I obtain plenty of help from amateurs on social media, they reward my ardour and longevity, I do know I’m a job mannequin and that motivates me.

“I’m a fortunate man as a result of I do what I like most; driving has by no means been a job. I rise up within the morning and I’m going out on my bike, I haven’t got mounted working hours and I’m nonetheless dwelling my dream. I received races I dreamt of as a toddler and I’m nonetheless right here, it is nice.”

Life as an expert isn’t simple although, particularly at 50. Your physique isn’t the one you had at 20 and calls for completely different workloads; objectives can’t be the identical, in addition to the groups you journey for.

“I’ve plenty of expertise and I do know myself. I haven’t got a coach or a nutritionist; I understand how to coach and what to eat. My coaching methodology is the one I utilized in my early days, albeit just a few modifications. With age rising, what you lose most is energy; I’ve at all times had stamina and I needn’t prepare that with 50.

“I do spend six or seven hours on my bike, however that is a pleasure. I prepare my explosiveness, with particular work on the highway in addition to within the health club. In different occasions you’d prepare first and discover your form in the course of the races, now it’s important to be absolutely match earlier than you place a quantity in your again.

“Not too long ago I completed tenth on the Adriatica-Ionica and on the Sibiu Tour in Romania. My aim is at all times to do my greatest, particularly when the race fits me, however that may’t be successful the race at my age. What actually counts is enthusiasm, motivation and can.

“For years I’ve been one of many males to beat. That perspective has modified, however it hasn’t been a painful course of. Stress primarily comes from oneself; my aggressive spirit is untouched, however I’m extra conscious.”

Beryl Burton

Beryl Burton (1937-1996) British feminine bike owner, above, who received the World Street race title twice, and 5 monitor biking golds, was nonetheless racing at 48
Kazuyoshi Miura (1967-) Japanese footballer nonetheless going at 54 – performed for prime golf equipment in Brazil and Europe
Mario Andretti (1940-) American racing driver who received the F1 and IndyCar titles amongst many different accolades. Was making an attempt to win Le Mans aged 60 in 2000.

The key to longevity

The key of Rebellin’s longevity isn’t any secret in any respect, however the results of pure expertise, ardour and a balanced life-style.

“Love and fervour are key in coaching and racing, in vitamin and sleep. My spouse and I stay a easy life at residence; we rise up at 6:30, do some muscle firming, get a great breakfast after which I’m out on my bike at round 9:30. I eat a light-weight meal when I’m again, then we take dinner at round six and go to mattress at 9.

“We really feel the advantages of such an everyday life. I’m virtually vegetarian, however it’s arduous to maintain up with it in inns. I have never been consuming any purple meat for years and I’ve been dwelling gluten free since 1997. I’ve a balanced vitamin plan, I get well sooner and I really feel higher. Meals is the gasoline of your motor.”

He has additionally had his disappointments, and coping with these – notably when he was stripped of the Olympic highway race silver medal after a constructive dope take a look at – assist him put together for the subsequent step of his life.

“I had some setbacks in my profession, such because the revocation of the silver medal I received on the Beijing 2008 Olympics. I used to be cleared by the Italian Justice [department]; I really feel that medal belongs to me though it isn’t with me. That was a turning level in my profession; I used to be suspended for 2 years, however it was as if it had been seven or eight.

“No large group wished me anymore, organisers prevented me. It was a troublesome spell, though I stored coaching as if I might return to racing the subsequent day. After I resumed in 2011, I began successful from the off. I used to be 33 however I actually hit my peak.

“Everybody knew my value, however no-one wished to provide me an opportunity; this additionally pushed me to hold on and show them flawed. I received the Giro dell’Emilia at 44, however that did not actually change something.

“Right now I like to assist my youthful team-mates too; I’m a type of sport director inside the peloton. I feel much less of my very own consequence and put myself extra at their service, making the tempo and breaking the wind.”

Rebellin appears to be properly sorted for the longer term, too. “It is all about ardour. I’m a fortunate man as a result of I do what I like most.”

Following this interview, Rebellin crashed in the course of the Memorial Marco Pantani race in Italy on 18 September, struggling leg fractures. He’s anticipated to bear surgical procedure within the coming days.

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