Teenager Finnegan Murphy claimed the coveted Couchman Cup for his maiden trophy win at the Wanganui Cycling Club's annual event on Saturday.
The 15-year-old gave a glimpse of the enormous potential he has over the 66km course from the Durie Hill School to the Red Shed Hill in the Turakina Valley and return. The trip includes the tough Reids Hill section, especially on the uphilll return ride.
The Couchman Cup was donated in 1948 in memory of Len Couchman who was killed in action in 1944 during World War II and is a handicap event.
In warm, windy conditions 23 riders started and all finished in a pleasant easterly wind.
Marty Hewson and Kerry Bennett were first away with a seven minute time gap to Brian Hayward, Allan Luff, and Johnny Black.
They, in turn, were seven minutes in front of a larger group comprised of Murphy, Catherine McMurray, Ashley Christie, Graeme Cox, Ross McNeil, Chris Pinkney and Clint Black. The next group of six riders followed seven minutes later with the fastest riders (scratch bunch) another eight minutes back.
In total the scratch riders had 28 minutes to catch the front riders.
The Clint Black/Murphy bunch worked well together and were rapidly catching the Hayward-led trio. They gathered them in at the top of Reids Hill with only 15km covered.
With Black, Murphy, McNeil and Christie driving the lead bunch they soon gathered in the duo of Hewson and Bennett.
Meanwhile, the scratch bunch, overseen by Jason Sturzaker, Adam Gosney, Kyle Hoskin and Bevan Cheatley, managed to catch the first break riders. By this time Phillip Groves and Kevin Hart had broken clear of their start bunch. On Reids hill the leading bunch split up after McMurray attacked, taking six riders with her.
With some re-gathering in the tail wind from Fordell, Black attacked a number of times with only Murphy holding on to him. Black was unable to shake the persistent Murphy. Others came from behind to join them, and finally Murphy sprinted clear of the group to take his maiden trophy win.
In second place was Pinkney, McNeil third, Luff fourth and Black fifth. In between the scratch riders arriving were Groves in sixth and Kevin Hart seventh.
The deficit had proved too much for the scratch bunch. Murphy's bunch all took their turns on the outward journey, making it hard for the other bunches to compete. The scratch bunch sprint and fastest times were taken out by Sturzaker, Gosney, Cheatley and Hoskin (another teenager mixing it with seniors twice his age and experience).
This group all recorded the same finish time of 1 hour 44 minutes, coming over the line two minutes 40 seconds after the front bunch.