There have been calls for improved road safety in Italy following the death of former classics rider Davide Rebellin in a hit-and-run incident last November ©Getty Images

There are calls on the Government in Italy to improve the safety of cyclists following the death last year of former classics star Davide Rebellin after he was struck in a hit-and-collision involving a lorry driver.

The 51-year-old, who only retired from professional cycling a month before he was killed, was struck by the truck driver while training in the town of Montebello Vicentino, in the northern Italian province of Vicenza, and killed instantly last November.

The motorist, who reportedly was exiting a roundabout, failed to stop at the scene of the collision, which took place just before noon on November 30.

A German truck driver stopped briefly, then fled the scene.

Police were able to reconstruct the incident and identify the driver.

Witnesses had photographed the driver at the scene.

The driver had been found guilty of a similar offence before.

Fellow Italian rider Davide Formolo hopes that something good can come out of the death of Rebellin, who he used to train alongside, with the Italian Government helping ensure the safety of cyclists.

"Every day a lot of people are dying on the bike," he told Velo News.

"The roads are not safe anymore to ride the bike. 

"There are too many cars on the road, much more than 20 or 50 years ago, and the roads are still the same.

"The Government should do something.

"Everyone is talking about global warming, and cycling is a good solution to this problem, but it is too dangerous.

"We need to ask for more respect from the motorists and something for the cyclists from the Government."

Rebellin had turned professional with the GB-MG Maglificio team after competing for Italy at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

His greatest success came when riding with Gerolsteiner between 2002 and 2008, although his achievements there, particularly in one-day classics and week-long stage races, were somewhat overshadowed by a doping ban.

The highlights included a famous "Ardennes triple", winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Flèche Wallonne, and the Amstel Gold Race in the same week in 2004, a feat only Philippe Gilbert, in 2011, has matched in the men’s peloton.

Italy's Davide Rebellin, left, celebrates winning an Olympic silver medal in the men's road race at Beijing 2008, but was later stripped of it after testing positive for banned drugs ©Getty Images
Italy's Davide Rebellin, left, celebrates winning an Olympic silver medal in the men's road race at Beijing 2008, but was later stripped of it after testing positive for banned drugs ©Getty Images

After winning the overall title at an epic edition of Paris-Nice in March 2008, Rebellin, on his 37th birthday, went on to take second place for Italy behind Spain’s Samuel Sanchez in the road race at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

He was subsequently stripped of his silver medal and banned for two years after testing positive at the Games for CERA, the erythropoietin variant first discovered being used in the peloton at that year’s Tour de France.

Following his return from his ban in 2011, Rebellin rode for a succession of second and third-tier teams, mainly based outside Italy, most notably the Polish UCI Continental outfit CCC.

During his 30-year spell in the peloton, he also won two further editions of Flèche Wallonne, in 2007 and 2009, the latter coming just days before his positive CERA test was revealed, the Clásica San Sebastián in 1997, and the 2001 edition of Tirreno-Adriatico.

The Italian retired in October last year after he finished 30th in the Veneto Classic.

Rebellin’s tragic death comes just five-and-a-half years after another leading Italian pro, 2011 Giro d’Italia champion Michele Scarponi, was killed after being struck by a van driver while riding in his hometown of Filottrano in Italy’s Marche region.