Whangarei teenager Kurt Coetzee is gunning for a title on this week's BDO Tour of Northland.
Almost 300 riders will compete in the four-day tour, covering 359km across Northland.
Coetzee didn't produce his best performance in his tour debut in 2017, finishing well off winner Austin Head's pace, but he said he is in a good position to perform well on home soil.
"Preparations have been really great going into this year's race. I've been through a couple of nice rides in the last few months," he said.
"One was a 190km ride four weeks ago so I'm feeling good.
"I was really disappointed with my result last year. I was already tired from doing the BDO Wellington to Auckland Challenge and then I got sick so I just wasn't strong enough for the Northland tour."
Despite not returning his best performance, Coetzee has no doubts he can be a major factor in the race and in the Junior (under-19) division.
"I'm feeling good so this year I'm expecting an age-group win and a top-15 finish overall," he said.
The 2017 edition was the first time the race trajectory had been reversed in its 18 years of running and organisers have kept the same formula for 2018.
Rather than setting off towards Dargaville from Whangarei on the first day, the cyclists will shoot off in the other direction to Russell for the longest leg of the tour at 104km.
From there they ride for 89km to Opononi on the second day before an 83km cycle to Dargaville.
The last day brings them back to Whangarei, finishing at the Barge Showgrounds after another 83km, giving the race a grand total of 359km.
Coetzee said the reversal makes the opening stage easily the most difficult to traverse.
"The first day from Kensington to Russell is by far the toughest day. It's an amazing leg with good views from the roads but there are also loads of hills," he said.
"It's the make or break day.
"The rest of the course is rather flat and fast, apart from day three over the Waipoua Forest, but those are rather nice gentle climbs compared to the other ones during the race."
Nearly 50 Northland riders will compete in the race across 11 different divisions.
Head, who held the lead from start to finish in last year's race, is not in the field.
2016 champion Glen Carabine is again racing and looking to return to his form from two years ago while Daniel Molyneux will try to go two better after rounding off the podium last year.
The race kicks off at ASB Stadium at 9.30am on Thursday.