By Andrew Hood
Rebellin dreams of one more
Two years ago, Davide Rebellin was riding the best wave of his career, surging to an incredible treble that included a sweep of the Ardennes classics with back-to-back wins at Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
This year, a banged-up Rebellin is dreaming of winning just one. A crash at the Tour of the Basque Country earlier this month left the Gerolsteiner captain with some injuries to his ribs, but it´s not stopping him of aiming for more Ardennes glory.
“I´d love to win another, because it would serve as a kind of confirmation,” Rebellin told VeloNews. “I know it´s impossible to think of repeating the treble, but to win one more would be amazing for me. If I had to chose, I would pick Liege because it´s the most prestigious.”
Rebellin finished a solid sixth in Amstel Gold on Sunday, but couldn´t react when eventual winner Frank Schleck (CSC) attacked on the Keutenberg with less than 15km to go. The result shows the 34-year-old is on target for his goal of “being a protagonist” in all the Ardennes classics.
Looking ahead, Rebellin said he´ll decide this week if he´ll start the Giro. With the first stages in Belgium, Rebellin would hvae a good shot at grabbing the maglia rosa. There won´t be a Tour de France on his plate this season, but he´s hoping to return to the good graces of the Italian team and earn a slot to start the world championships in Austria.
Despite his phenomenal classics record two years ago, Rebellin was left off the Italian world´s team that year and desperately tried to earn a berth with the Argentine squad. Last-minute scrambling couldn´t resolve his paperwork in time and he was sidelined for the Verona worlds course on what were home roads for him.
“I would like to race once again for Italy. I think my exclusion from the world´s selection was political. It was unjust,” he said. “One has to be in condition to prove that you deserve a spot.”
Simoni-Cunego to square off in Torino
In what should be a nice preview of next month´s Giro d’Italia, top Italian teams square off at the Tour of Trentino, April 18-21, in the mountains in northern Italy.
The main attraction will be the duel between former teammates Gilberto Simoni, now on Saunier Duval-Prodir, and Lampre-Fondital’s Damiano Cunego.
Simoni, 34, hails from the region and won in 2003, while Cunego won during his breakout season in 2004. The two had a somewhat acrimonious relationship during their stints at Saeco and Lampre, but now that Simoni has left for Saunier Duval, both men seem more stable in their positions on their respective teams.
The hilly four-day race always provides a good test for the climbers ahead of the Giro, and this edition is no exception. The opening stage from Arco to Castello Tesino should do a lot toward deciding the winner with a steep Cat. 2 climb toward the finish. Stages two and three both feature Cat. 1 climbs, but neither are close to the finish while the finale is an up-and-down affair.
Only three ProTour teams are among the field. Other big riders to watch include defending champion Julio Perez Cuapio (Panaria-Navagare), Franco Pellizzotti (Liquigas) and the possible return by Jose Rujano, who´s been missing for most the season after a bitter contract dispute with team Selle Italia. Rujano is pencilled in on the preliminary start list, but we´ll have to wait and see if he shows up.
Bettini the man for Quick Step in Ardennes
Quick Step-Innergetic will be keen to wrestle back the bragging rights about who´s the team of the classics with Paolo Bettini leading the colors for Fleche Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege this week.
Quick Step roared out of the gates with victories in Milan-San Remo with Filippo Pozzato and Tour of Flanders with Tom Boonen. Team CSC, however, has nudged ahead with equally impressive win at Paris-Roubaix with Fabian Cancellara and Sunday´s surprise win with Frank Schleck at Amstel Gold Race.
Quick Step for Fleche and LiegeSerge BaguetPaolo BettiniKevin De WeertAd EngelsJose Antonio GarridoJuan Manuel GarateBram TankinkCédric Vasseur