Napier rider Jeremy Yates revelled in the wind and rain to win today's 200km K2 cycling classic around the Coromandel Peninsula and notch his fourth consecutive victory in the tough one-day event.
Straight off the plane from the Tour of Brazil where he won a stage and claimed second in the mountain classification, Yates shrugged off jet lag, rising winds, rain and a classy field of pretenders to his crown.
A marked man, Yates was shadowed by the peloton until the final climb of the day over Whangapoa Hill where the race was down to Cambridge rider Brad Carter, Wellington surprise Andy Hagan and the defending champion.
I wasn't feeling flash and Brad had been climbing really well so I didn't want to let it come down to the final hill," Yates said.
"So I decided to hit it hard all the way to the finish and make it a race of attrition."
Yates attacked Carter several times, losing Hagan first and then eventually establishing a 20sec lead as they hit the hill.
"He got me down to maybe eight seconds on the hill," said Yates. "But I knew if I could stay in front over the top and take some risks down the hill to the finish I could hold on.
"I almost lost the race several times, but I managed to keep the bike up and even managed to cruise the final bit on the flat and enjoy the win."
Yates crossed the line in five hours, 08 minutes 34 seconds, with Carter following 21secs later but 1min 20sec clear of Hagan.
The elite women's race over 100k played out in similar fashion to the men, with the field happy to mark pre-race favourite and 2009 winner Serena Sheridan.
The same cross winds that split the men's race through Whitianga also established the contenders among women. A crash on the wet roads made this bunch even more select, with former Olympic rower-turned-cyclist Sonia Waddell among the casualties.
The climbs over Kuaotunu and Whangapoa did the rest, with Sheridan emerging at the Coromandel finish line with a comfortable 37sec winning margin.
Her time of 2hrs 34min 45sec slashed more than seven minutes of last year's course record when Sheridan was outsprinted by Commonwealth Games representative Melissa Holt.
The top five women all bettered the old course record with Sarah Morrison 34sec clear of Janey Cox with Auckland's Emma Crum and Nelson veteran Jeannie Kuhajek fourth and fifth respectively.
The men's and women's elite races were also the ninth race of the 2010 national road cycling Series.
With just three races remaining - the Lake Taupo race, Christchurch's Festival of Cycling and Wellington's Rice Mountain Classic - Yates now sits in second behind Commonwealth Games rider Gordon McCauley, while Sheridan has an almost unassailable lead among women.