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Truck driver accused of killing Davide Rebellin to be charged with road homicide

Italian judge rejected plea bargain for Wolfgang Rieke, the 62-year-old German truck driver accused of running over and killing former cycling champion Davide Rebellin in Italy in 2022

Hsi lawyers had requested a sentence of 3 years and 11 months. Rieke will now stand trial for aggravated road homicide and hit-and-run after allegedly hitting Rebellin with the articulated lorry he was driving on a roundabout in Montebello Vicentino on November 30, 2022.

Rebellin, 51, was one of Italy's top riders in the 1990s. The trial has been set for April 22nd, 2024.

Rebellin's brother, Carlo stated, "We are satisfied with this rejection and we thank the judiciary for their work and their attention to the case. Now we await the hearing on April 22nd, and we hope for a heavier and fairer sentence than the one proposed in the plea bargain: if the judge rejected it, it means that he did not consider it congruous to the crime committed," he added.

Rieke was arrested in Germany in June 2023 and extradited to Italy in August 2023. The driver knew he had hit the cyclist, but left the scene anyway.

Several witnesses saw the driver get out of his truck and look at Rebellin, before quickly getting back in the cab and taking off.

It also appears like this is not the driver’s first offense. The German driver pleaded guilty to a non-fatal hit-and-run incident in 2001, and in 2014 was charged for drinking and driving.

Giuseppe Moscati, of the local police, said the authorities worked quickly to figure out where the German driver fled. They worked with other police forces to locate him.

“We don’t know if that will help to relieve the pain that the local and wider Italian community is feeling, but I want to thank everybody who helped the police in their investigation.”

Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin killed instantly by truck whilst training

51 year old Rebellin, who was from San Bonifacio, near Verona, had only recently ended his lengthy professional career at the Veneto Classic in front of his adoring fans.

He became the first rider to win the Ardennes Classics treble in a highlight 2004 season, with victory in the Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

He also won Tirreno-Adriatico (2001) and Paris-Nice (2008), along with a stage of the Giro d’Italia in 1996, wearing the maglia rosa for six stages and placing 6th overall in the general classification.

Throughout his career, Rebellin claimed 61 victories. 

Rebellin won silver in the men's road race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before being ordered to return it after testing positive for a banned substance.

He produced a positive test for the blood-booster EPO Cera during a re-testing campaign after the Games and was subsequently banned for two years.

Rebellin raced in the lower divisions until last year and is remembered by his family as someone "who lived to ride his bike".

His career spanned three decades before he retired in early 2022. 

RIP Davide