SUBWAY® Pro Cycling’s Dylan Kennett won a furious sprint to take out the Gore to Invercargill cycling classic on Tuesday.
Kennett finished ahead of fellow scratch rider Pieter Bulling with Mark Spessott claiming third in a sprint which also included Tom Scully and Brad Tuhi, in a time of 1hr 38min 30sec for the 64km race.
A double bronze medallist at last year's junior world track championships, Kennett was quick to praise his Subway Pro Cycling team-mates Tayla Harrison and Dillon Bennett for their hard work in getting him to the finish line.
"We all took our turns until we caught the big bunch and then our job was to get on the front and stay out of trouble," Kennett said.
"From then on it got a bit messy and [went in surges].
"We tried to get Dillon and Tayla in each break, which we did, and I was just trying to save energy."
Kennett missed the initial attack lead by Scully but Bennett dropped back to drag him back into contention.
"While that was happening Tayla was in the front group so I could save energy, it was a bloody good team ride. I just had to mark Scully for the last kilometre, it was good."
The race looked to be heading for a fairytale finish with the evergreen Barry Harcourt in a front bunch of five during the second half of the race.
Now based in Te Anau, Harcourt is a two-time winner of the prestigious race and would have been riding after the record for all-time wins held by Trevor McLeay, but he couldn't fend off the fast-finishing group of scratch and break riders.
The classic marked the end of the 2012 Invercargill Licensing Trust-sponsored New Year carnival, which included two nights of track events, and the criterium racing which had to be cancelled due to persistent rain on Sunday morning.
Kennett, meanwhile, is expected to be one of the big New Zealand hopes when Invercargill hosts the junior world track championships later this year.
The top under-19 rider at last year's national elite championships in Invercargill, he will again be contesting the under-19s in a few weeks' time, as well as the New Zealand madison championships