A STUNNING attack in the final kilometres of the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic landed Kiwi Sam Horgan a debut win in the iconic event this afternoon.
The 26-year-old reserved his energy until the final three kilometres of the race and, along with Budget Forklifts team mate Jack Anderson, opened a gap on the lead bunch of six riders that proved unbeatable.
Horgan finished the gruelling 256-kilometre classic in six hours 32 minutes and 12 seconds.
Team mates Anderson and Jacob Kauffmann rounded out the top three, handing Team Budget Forklifts a rare "warnie" trifecta.
The south-west's customary strong winds marred the race, blowing as a cross wind for the most of the journey, before turning to a head wind for the final 50 kilometres.
Horgan said the race was going according to plan until a breakaway where last year's winner Floris Goesinnen (Team Drapac) and Charter Mason Drapacs's Jason Spencer held a one minute lead on the chasers.
They were reigned in by a breakaway of four riders, including Anderson and Kauffmann.
"Those two guys going across (to the leaders) meant that I could sit back with the chasers and save myself for the finish," Horgan said.
Horgan joined the lead bunch in Raglan Parade with just three kilometres remaining.
He mounted solo breakaway, establishing a 100-metre gap.
Anderson bridged across and joined Horgan at the front, but the duo came under heavy attack from Target Trek Cycling's Alex Ray.
Horgan and Anderson worked hard in the final kilometre to eliminate the attack and approached the finish line together, before Anderson backed off, allowing Horgan the honours.
"I owe this to the two guys standing beside me on the podium, they are amazing team mates," he said.
"I'm speechless, just ecstatic, to win a race with so much history behind it is amazing. I couldn't be happier.
"It's an unbelievable race, it's the first time the three of us have ever ridden it, so to go one, two and three is just amazing."
"I didn't know what to expect, It's a long race, so I just knew I didn't want to go out too early."
Two hundred and 34 riders started the race, a record for the 118-year old event.
Mortlake rider Darcy Woolley was part of a number of breakaways early in the race and finished in 17th position.
Brendan Pendergast was the first Warrnambool rider home.
Wangaratta's Ian Strang won the Camperdown to Warrnambool veterans race earlier in the day.