Rebellin turned professional in 1992 and came to the attention of the cycling world with a string of strong performances during his early years. In 1996 he gained further notice when he thrived in the 1996 Giro d'Italia. Riding for Polti, the young Italian took stage seven and with it the maglia rosa. He held the leader's jersey for six days and finished the Grand Tour sixth overall. Years later he said of the race, "I have won Classics, but the first important win was in the 1996 Giro, winning the maglia rosa with the stage."