Mauro Vegni, race director of the Giro, explained that in light of the tragic circumstances it was a necessary decision.
“I think it is a necessary decision,” Vegni said to La Gazetta dello Sport. “We cannot now celebrate on a day of mourning. The first guests have already trickled in, but it is impossible to continue this event. This touches us closely. Our thoughts go out to Davide and his family during this terrible time.”
Italian rider Davide Rebellin, who only just retired from professional racing, was tragically killed after being struck by a lorry yesterday morning in Montebello Vicentino, Italy.
The former winner of Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico was just 51-years-old.
Instead of presenting the new Maglia Rosa in Milan, race officials and guests present in Milan held a minute's silence in memory of Rebellin instead.
The former racer won a stage of his home Grand Tour in 1996. He also wore the hallowed pink jersey of the Giro d’Italia for six consecutive days that year.
“My thoughts are with Davide, a man who was active in cycling for many years and who has given us many joyful moments. I don't think there has ever been a rider who has been active for so long. But his age was part of his way of experiencing sports,” Vegni added.
Meanwhile, a host of current and former riders, sports directors, race organisers and journalists have paid tribute to Rebellin via social media.
Recently retired Alejandro Valverde offered his condolences to Rebellin’s family and friends.
Valverde said: “My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Davide Rebellin, a professional colleague and rival for so many years. D.E.P.”
Valverde raced against the Italian on multiple occasions throughout both of their careers. The Spaniard finished runner up to Rebellin at the 2007 edition of La Flèche Wallonne, a race he would then go on to win himself.
Rebellin was involved in the Beking Criterium in Monaco last weekend which was won by Belgian Philippe Gilbert.
Gilbert shared a similar tribute to Valverde on Twitter that said: “A few days ago we were doing our last pro race in Monaco and today you left to join the stars. I think very strongly of Françoise and your family. I am very sad we will miss you amico. RIP Davide Rebellin.”
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