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Life's sweet despite tough road for diabetes

Forget about winning and the 550km gruelling test he's about to begin, Fabio Calabria is on a mission to prove Type1 diabetes can't stop you from reaching your dreams.

And after being in a three-day coma when he was 13, the Canberra cyclist wants to use tomorrow's Jayco Herald Sun Tour to inspire a new generation of diabetics.

Mr Calabria will race in the tour for the first time in three years when it begins at Whittlesea before the 550km journey ends in Melbourne on Sunday.

For the 24-year-old, the race isn't about being at the front of the pack and finishing on top of the podium.

Of course, the reigning Australian sprint champion has ambitions to steal a stage victory and continue working towards his goal of competing at the Tour de France or the Olympics.

But the No1 priority for Calabria and Team Type1 - a professional team he has been a part of for the past four years - is to show diabetes ''isn't a death sentence''.


''I'll take advantage of whatever comes my way ... but the ultimate goal of the team is to spread the word and message that diabetes isn't a death sentence and it can't limit your dreams or aspirations,'' he said.

''A person with Type1 can do anything and hopefully I can inspire recently diagnosed young people.''

It's fitting Calabria has been with Team Type1 since leaving Hawker College to base himself in Colorado in the United States.

Six of his teammates have diabetes, but the illness hasn't stopped Calabria chasing his dream of being one of the world's top cyclists.

Calabria fell into a three-day coma when he was first diagnosed with the disease 11 years ago and his life changed when he woke up.

Far from daunted, Calabria was back on his bike two months later and began slowly building up his racing range and testing the limitations of his body.

While racing he has to wear a glucose monitor which constantly tests his blood glucose levels and insulin requirements.

When he trains by himself he ''always has $10 with me'' in case his glucose levels drop to a dangerous level and he needs to stop for a quick energy fix. Even when he's not on his bike he has to prick his finger every two hours to ensure there's no overbalance of insulin in his bloodstream.

Calabria returned to Australia to win the sprint competition at the national road titles in January in Bathurst.

His first attempt at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in 2008 was solid, but he is confident his four-year stint overseas has made him stronger, wiser and faster.

Team Type1 is also hoping to gain a wildcard entry to next year's Tour de France.

And while he admits it's too late to make a charge to Australia's team to travel to London next year, he hopes to force his way into the team at a future Olympic Games.

''I'm a bit of a jack of all trades and a master at none,'' Calabria joked recently.

''If anything I'm more of a sprinter than a climber and representing my country is something I'd love to do.

''We're trying to get an invite to the Tour de France, that's also one of my long-term goals as well as the Olympics and the world titles.''