Fabian Cancellara receives his rightful medal from Beijing Olympics
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fabian Cancellara receives his rightful medal from Beijing Olympics

by Jered Gruber at 2:54 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Cancellara receives disqualified Rebellin's original silver medal in small podium ceremony at home in Switzerland

Samuel Sanchez won the Olympic Road Race in Beijing on August 9, 2008. Behind, Davide Rebellin followed in second, Fabian Cancellara an amazing third, and Alexandre Kolobnev was 4th.

Following the Ardennes Classics in 2009, the news broke that Davide Rebellin had tested positive for CERA-EPO earlier in the season. The rider was suspended for two years for the positive, but it was only in July of 2010 that the CAS definitively ruled that Rebellin's appeal would not be accepted, his ban was upheld, and thus, his silver medal at the Olympics was not his anymore, but rather Fabian Cancellara's.

Over two years (28 months) after standing proudly on the Olympic podium with a bronze medal, Cancellara took to a makeshift podium in his hometown of Ittigen, Switzerland just outside of Bern. This time, the Swiss superstar stood on the second step of the podium and was given his new medal, a silver one, by Switzerland's Olympic president, Jürg Schild.

The pictures in the Blick.ch article show a bemused Cancellara standing on a small podium with his new silver medal in hand. While it doesn't seem like much so far off from the original result, Cancellara was happy to receive has rightful award on two different levels: the first, that justice has been served, and second, an emotional one, not so much related to himself, but to the rider slighted the most in the delayed saga of justice of Davide Rebellin: Alexandre Kolobnev.

"Justice has triumphed. Then for the emotions, I still experienced receiving the bronze medal, the celebration, and the nice din that followed. For the Russian, Alexandre Kolobnev though, who finished fourth, and who was awarded the bronze medal retroactively, it must have been very disappointing," said the four-time time trial World Champion to tsr.ch.

Receiving the silver medal was no doubt an honor for Cancellara, but things have changed for the Olympic time trial gold medalist. When he received the bronze medal in Beijing in the road race, it was the first time that the rider had really shown himself capable of competing on an extremely hilly route. His performance there was incredible, his late race effort was jaw dropping, but now, we know it was just the first of many efforts like that. In 2009, he went on to win the Tour de Suisse. He then followed that with an impressive Tour de France and a fantastic ride at the World Championships in Mendrisio on another very difficult route. Cancellara feels that the only way to really appreciate this medal now is to turn back the clock to Beijing, back when his ride was a first in the star's career.

"It is quite a different situation. We have to turn back the clock two years. At that time, bronze was like gold for me," said the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project signee to blick.ch.

Cancellara did not get a new medal though. It's the medal that went around Rebellin's neck that afternoon in Beijing. Cancellara notes to Blick: "There are scratches and marks in it. It is a used medal, but when I look at my old bronze medal…it looks worse."

Blick.ch also points out an interesting thing the town of Ittigen has done to honor its sporting hero: it has named the pedestrian bridge that connects the train station of Ittigen to the House of Sport the Fabian Cancellara Bridge.

With Rebellin's medal finally passed on to its rightful owner, we can all now prepare for Rebellin's return to the peloton in the not so distant future. The rider is set to return to professional cycling on April 27th, three months shy of his fortieth birthday.


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