A 62-year-old German truck driver has been identified as the suspect who struck and killed 51-year-old Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin in a road accident in Italy on Wednesday, according to Italian police and prosecutors.
"Our relentless investigations [...] have allowed Vicenza Carabinieri police to put a face and a name to the driver of the heavy goods vehicle that ran over and killed Davide Rebellin," police colonel Giuseppe Moscati said in a statement on Friday.
The man, who has since been located in Germany, faces a charge of "omicidio stradale" or "road homicide" -- a crime introduced in Italian legislation in 2016 -- but has not been arrested as the offence doesn't exist in the German penal code.
Rebellin was killed instantly after being struck by the vehicle -- a Volvo truck with a German licence plate -- as he was cycling in Montebello Vicentino, in the northern region of Veneto. According to the Italian prosecutor, the truck driver initially got out of the vehicle and approach the victim but then drove away.
Other people at the scene of the crash took photos of the driver's licence plate and helped authorities trace him back. He was then located in Germany's region of North Rhine-Westphalia.
According to the Italian news agency ANSA, the driver has two prior convictions in Italy related to road accidents. In 2001, he was reportedly involved in a non-fatal hit in Foggia, in the southern region of Puglia, after which he fled without giving assistance to those involved in the accident. In 2014, he was banned from driving after he was found to be drunk at the wheel by traffic police in Chieti, Abruzzo.
Tributes have poured in for Rebellin from the cycling community stunned by the tragic accident.
In 2004, at the peak of his career, Rebellin won the Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege–Bastogne–Liege. Five years later in 2009, he was ordered to return the silver medal he had won at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing after taking a retroactive doping test. Rebellin insisted he was innocent, but returned the medal as requested by the Italian Olympic Committee CONI.
Rebellin had retired in October after three decades in professional cycling.