Rebellin to deny “real” Argentinian?

Davide Rebellin's audacious bid to enter the world championships as an Argentinian looks set to succ

Davide Rebellin’s audacious bid to enter the world championships as an Argentinian looks set to succ

Davide Rebellin may just have made his first enemy in his adopted homeland even before his Argentinian passport is winging its way over the Atlantic. The Vicenza-born rider, who resides in Monte Carlo and rides for a German team, is reportedly hours away from obtaining the dual nationality which should gain him back-door access to the World Championships in Verona in two weeks time. Should the necessary paperwork arrive, Rebellin would surely be an automatic choice for the one starting berth to which Argentina is entitled for the men’s road race on October 3. This, naturally, would be at the expense of another rider from the nation made famous by Eva Peron and Diego Maradona. Logic suggests that the fall guy will be the Panaria team’s Alejandro Alberto Borrajo – currently the highest-ranked Argentinian at 434th in the UCI standings. Both Borrajo and his Panaria team manager Bruno Reverberi are incensed by the prospect. Contacted by procycling on Tuesday evening, Reverberi said his rider had been “very angry and very bitter” on realising that Rebellin’s switch could cost him his place in Verona. According to Reverberi, however, Borrajo has now received assurances from Argentine Cycling Federation (ACF) president Gabriel Ovido Curuchet. Having publicly supported Rebellin’s decision, now Curuchet has apparently moved to allay Borrajo’s fears. “The president [of the ACF] told him last week that, if Argentina has one starting place and one reserve, Alejandro will be starting,” Reverberi told procycling. “He also said that the Argentine Federation could ask the UCI to consider Rebellin’s ranking points as they stood on the cut-off date of August 15 2004. If they did, Argentina would be entitled to take four riders the worlds. Rebellin and Alejandro would obviously be among them.” Reverberi and Borrajo are forced to consider another eventuality: that Rebellin’s UCI points are not taken into account, but that the 33-year-old Gerolsteiner rider is still selected as Argentina’s sole representative in Italy. “That would be a disgrace,” Reverberi said. “Alejandro has contributed the lion’s share of the points which have earned Argentina the right to take even one rider and one reserve to the worlds. His results have earned that mark of prestige for Argentinian cycling. “The Verona course doesn’t suit his characteristics as a rider, so if he doesn’t go it’s neither the end of the world for Panaria nor for Alejandro. But it’s a matter of principle,” Reverberi concluded. The 24-year-old Borrajo, an accomplished sprinter, caught the eye with a series of top-ten stage finishes at the recent Tour of Britain. He was also close to victory on numerous occasions in sprint finishes at the Giro d’Italia in May. Having received the backing of numerous Italian colleagues, including training partner Filippo Pozzato, in recent days Rebellin has received a further vote of confidence from Argentina’s Minister of Sport, Claudio Morresi. “Davide Rebellin’s naturalisation would be hugely important for us, and an inspiration for lots of young people in our country who want to get involved in this wonderful sport,” commented Morresi at a press conference in Buenos Aires. The winner of a memorable triple crown of spring classics (Amstel Gold, Flche Wallonne and Lige-Bastogne-Lige) earlier this year, Rebellin first approached the Argentine authorities in August after being controversially overlooked for Italy’s five-man Olympic team. With the UCI’s deadline for world championship entry lists fixed for next Monday (September 20), he is now facing a race of sorts even to obtain the passport which would make him eligible for Argentina in Verona. At the end of his most successful season, further wrangles with the authorities could await Rebellin in late November: a court in Padova, north-east Italy, has summoned the Gerolsteiner star to explain his links with under-fire doctor Enrico Lazzaro. Rebellin continues to maintain that he has never used performance-enhancing drugs.