Jason Christie is a New Zealand national road champion for the second time.
Christie has edged a fantastic sprint finish in Napier, beating out Hayden McCormick for second, with Michael Torckler claiming third ahead of World Tour star George Bennett.
Christie has quickly become a premier force at the national championships, finishing in the top four the last five years, including second last year, and victory in 2016.
Also improving from second to first was James Fouche, who claimed the Under 23 title, and the New Zealand Cyclist Corps Memorial Trophy.
The national jersey has had a consistent home the past few years, with only three different riders claiming the title in the past six years.
Hayden Roulston won in 2013 and 2014, Joseph Cooper claimed it in 2015 and 2017, and now Christie has added to his 2016 title with another national crown.
Today was possibly his toughest win yet, having to chase down a superb effort from Torckler, who got tried to solo to victory with 30 kilometres to go.
He went over the final climb with a 22 second lead, but he was caught with four kilometres to go, after an exhausting chase by Bennett.
However, Bennett couldn't get away in the final kilometres, and Christie was always likely to win the sprint, starting early and boosting home to charge over the line with his arm raised in triumph.
It was sweet relief for the 27-year-old, who was battling several ailments coming into the race.
"I was sick – I was throwing up a week ago, I crashed on Friday [in the time trial where he finished third] – it's definitely been hard," Christie said.
Christie never felt that the race was out of reach, and once he caught up to Torckler, he was confident of victory on the flat finish.
"I looked at those guys and I thought 'George is a good climber', but against the group I didn't see him riding away from us. I also didn't think Torckler was going to stay away."
Christie was pushed all the way by Bennett, who put in a stunning ride considering he had only got back on the bike two weeks ago after surgery to try and fix a side stitch issue.
After not expecting to be competitive, Bennett was pleasantly surprised yet still disappointed to have come so close.
"At the start of the day I was happy if I just got around, and now having got close to winning it I'm gutted that I didn't."
Named as Cycling New Zealand's 2017 rider of the year after the race, Bennett was attacking on the hills all throughout the 171 kilometre circuit, getting across to the lead group midway through, then attacking from the group to sit in solo second for a long period as he chased Torckler.
However, his attempts to displace McCormick and Christie came up short, and he was never going to be the fastest in the sprint.
"Pretty much worst case scenario, arriving with anyone else – I just wasn't sharp enough mentally, I wasn't in that race rhythm. I thought I had them pinned on the hill but they fought their way back – I wasn't expecting Jase to hit out that early on the right of the roundabout – it was a bit of shitter really but that's alright."
Despite not being able to wear the Kiwi jersey in the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana this year, it was still promising signs for Bennett's form, and his health, with the side stitch issue not presenting itself during the race.
"I'm really hesitant to say I'm cured but I thought it was coming on a little bit, I was a bit anxious for a while there but it never really came on today – I'm pretty optimistic about it."
With Christie's victory, the Kiwi national road jersey won't be seen on the World Tour this year, and it might not even be seen too often, with Christie uncertain about his cycling future.
"I've got no races, I've got no team, I just want to go to the Commonwealth Games, and hopefully Cycling New Zealand will consider me."
"My consistency – every year I've been on the podium or in contention to win the race – from my perspective it's kind of incredible."
Christie's national resume is second to none, and a year of winning the silver fern is a just reward for another excellent victory.