Former doper signs up for his 26th season as a professional rider

Davide Rebellin will be a feature of professional cycling for at least one more season after the 46-year-old signed a new professional contract for the 2018 season.

The Italian rider, who has five Classic victories and one doping ban to his name, will ride for Natura4Ever-Sovac, a team with Belgian roots but which will be registered as a Continental level team in Algeria for the 2018 season.

“One of the dreams of our manager Geoffrey Coupé came true this morning,” read a team statement issued on Sunday.

“Davide Rebellin will be an important part of our team, both in terms of his sporting qualities and in terms of the experience he can bring to our young riders.”

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Rebellin, who signed his first professional contract in 1992 before at least six of his team-mates were even born, was a dominant figure in the sport during the late 1990s and 2000s.

Most of his success came in hilly one-day races, winning La Flèche Wallonne on three occasions, and taking an Ardennes Classics triple victory in 2004.

He also collected a silver medal in the road race at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but had this result taken away after he tested positive for CERA.

The positive test meant that Rebellin was given a two-year ban, returning with Continental level team Miche–Guerciotti in 2011, then enjoying four years with CCC Polkowice racing at Professional Continental level.

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Most recently, Rebellin raced with Kuwait-Cartucho.es, delivering strong results at races outside of Europe in 2017, including winning the UCI 2.2 International Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen in Indonesia in September, and winning a stage and finishing seventh overall in the Tour of Iran in October.

Rebellin, who will turn 47 next August, will be by far the oldest member of a youthful Natura4Ever-Sovac team in 2018, although he’ll also be joined by Algerian sprinter Youcef Reguigui who joins from Dimension Data.