Rylee Field, of the Parramatta Cycling Club, broke away from a group of about 30 riders with some 10 kilometres to go to the finish line and stayed ahead to capture the Keegan Downes Memorial Sundowner Handicap Cycling Classic in Gunnedah on Saturday.
A latecomer to cycling after switching from triathlon at age 18, the 22-year-old crossed the finish line early in the afternoon, with the pack close behind, after travelling the 100km from Coonabarabran to Gunnedah.
Scott Reynolds (Penrith Cycling club) and Sean Whitfield (Canberra Cycling Club) finished second and third – seven seconds adrift.
On an idyllic winter’s day, Field, who had no significant wins heading into the Cycling NSW race, hopes to use the victory as a springboard to bigger races coming up.
He said he made his move following one of the race’s last climbs.
He said: “There was about six or seven of us who decided to have a crack … over the top (of the climb) everyone was hurting a bit, so I decided to go solo because I’m not much of a sprinter. So I thought I’d just try my luck.
“I was feeling pretty good the whole day, and then just capitalised on a move and it ended up working, so I’m pretty stoked.
“I’ve got some bigger races coming up pretty soon, so it’s good to know the form’s coming along nicely and everything is going well.”
Field, who rides for the St George Continental Cycling Team, will contest the Gunnedah to Tamworth Graded Scratch Race on Sunday.
Nathan Browne, of Gunnedah Cycling and Triathlon Club, was the best-placed local. He finished a creditable 40th out of 116 riders, 2min 57sec behind Field.
Like Saturday’s race, the Gunnedah to Tamworth has attracted a host of A grade riders.
The leading local riders were Tamworth duo Mark Jeffrey and Mark Stewart, who finished 2min 20sec and 2:55 behind Field in 36th and 38th places.