The beep that guided Reuben
AN outstanding beep test result during an athletic testing day at Byron Bay High School has led to Reuben Donati claiming the NSW road cycling under-23 championship.
The Byron Bay resident had never pushed a pedal in anger before attending a North Coast Academy of Sport talent identification day four years ago but now Donati has his sights on a professional contract.
Donati won the NSW under-23 title after being involved in a five-man breakaway in the 165km race at Kurrajong.
“It was a five 33km-lap race and there was a 3km climb. On the last lap the peloton split up and four elite riders and I broke away,” the 19-year-old said.
“There was 25km to go after the summit and we worked together but because I was the only under-23 rider I did most of the work.
“With about 10km to go there was a left turn and from there I knew it was only slightly downhill to the finish line and I knew I had it.
“It was a strange feeling knowing that I had won that far out.”
Donati finished more than three minutes in front of the second-placed rider.
Were it not for that beep test - a tortuous cardiovascular shuttle run test that involves participants running 20 metres to a pre-recorded beep that quickens every stage - on a sleepy Saturday morning four years ago Donati's career in sport could have been much different.
“I played mostly soccer and cricket when I was younger,” the former Byron Bay High student said.
“I was not really that interested in cycling but I went out to a North Coast Academy of Sport talent identification day and during the beep test I think I got something like 14.8(an outstanding result).
“That was about four bikes ago. I bought a bike after that and got coaching from the Academy every Saturday for a year but then I struck out on my own.”
Donati started riding between 500km and 600km a week, and the results have followed.
“I won the Queensland metropolitan championship a few months ago at Boonah,” he said.
“In the next few months I'll be riding in the Queensland championships and hopefully compete in the elite division of the Grafton to Inverell. The nationals will be held in early January.”
Standing at 1.67m and weighing only 56kg, Donati is built as a classic climber who could be suited to the grand tours in Europe, including the Tour de France.
The Tour is an aim of every budding cyclist but with the success of Australians in the iconic French event over the past decade the possibility of being a professional in Europe is not out of the question.
“I'd love to be an overseas professional and I'm looking at travelling a bit next year,” Donati said.
“My first step would be to get a continental contract and there is a possibility I could get one (soon).
“I'm not too big so I think I'm suited to Europe and I have a good climbing ability but my weakness is that I'm not a great time triallist.”
Sporting success runs in the Donati family, but not in the draining sport of road cycling.
Donati's father Max is a former national champion in the less taxing sport of croquet.