Squadra azzuro? I don’t need no stinkin’ squadra azzuro!!!

Davide Rebellin indicates to Franco Ballerini exactly how he feels about squadra azzuro politics...Max Sciandri grew tired of being left off the squadra azzuro year after year and excercised his dual citizenship to compete in the world championships for Great Britain, and in a similar vein Guido Trenti took out a USPRO license and has competed wearing stars and stripes in several elite road world chamionships. Davide Rebellin may have a beef as legitimate as Sciandri’s and Trenti’s, but opting to change citizenship approximately 1 month before the Verona world championships to a country that he has absolutely no connection (other than being a friend of an Italian ex-pat highly situated in the Argentinean cycling federation) raises my sporting hackles.

What is perhaps most disturbing is the fact that nobody has explained if Rebellin is denying the opportunity of a lifelong Argentinean citizen (perhaps someone such as Alejandro-Alberto Borrajo who’s shown some form in the recent Tour of Britain) to take part in the world championships. According to the UCI, Argentina is only entitled to put 1 man on the start line due to it’s country’s ranking (38th). Can you imagine this conversation, “Ummm…sorry Alejandro. We know you’ve had a good season and have been building fitness for the worlds but, ummm, Rebellin is faster than you and will start in your place in Verona.” Argentina hasn’t had a strong history of competing in the elite road worlds (I could only find one Argentinean taking part in a world title road race in the past 5 years), so I hope Rebellin isn’t screwing someone. Is this the beginning of the Enron-ization of the peloton? Off-shore citizenship? Will Rebellin operate out of a mailbox in Buenos Aires?

What’s also strange is that Rebellin will have no teammates. None. And I don’t think he can count on any favors from Italy. What can he really hope to accomplish by competing on his own? This is really a lose-lose situation for Rebellin. Imagine these scenarios:

1. Italy, Spain, and Germany self-destruct while Rebellin rides out of his skin and takes home the world title. The tifosi would absolutely shit themselves. How could Rebellin stand tall in Verona, in his native Italy, while the Argentinean national anthem plays (has Rebellin even heard the national anthem?) and live to tell the tale? He would be ripped limb from limb by rabid Italian fans and his still-steaming entrails (along with his rainbow jersey and gold medal) would be Fed-Exed overnight to his new home: a Buenos Aires mailbox.

2. Bettini and Rebellin are in a two-up break and start to play cat and mouse in the closing kilometers. Meanwhile, someone with screaming late-season form, like Alejandro Valverde, motors up to the break in the last minute of the race and dusts them both. Judas Rebellin screws favorite son Paolo Bettini out of an Olympics/Worlds double. Queue the outcome from result #1: Rebellin would be ripped limb from limb by rabid Italian fans and his still-steaming entrails would be Fed-Exed overnight to his new home: a Buenos Aires mailbox.

3. Rebellin isn’t a factor and simply gets to ride 265 km in Verona, showered with spit and venom from rabid tifosi.

What a great idea, Davide.

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