MATILDA Raynolds kept telling herself "this is just another ride, there is no pressure" and it paid dividends with a victory in her debut Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic.
The 32-year-old edged out Specialized Women's Racing teammate Taryn Heather, who secured consecutive second-places, and Kirsty Deacon as the first woman across the line in the gruelling 267-kilometre race.
Of the 11 women who started the 104th edition of the race in Avalon on Saturday morning, five crossed the finish line on Raglan Parade more than six hours later.
Three-time starter Kate Perry (Specialized Women's Racing) and Georgia Miansarow (Sydney University Velo Club) were the other two women to finish.
Port Melbourne-based Raynolds said she felt sheer relief as she finished the historical race at her first attempt.
"It doesn't really feel like I have won a race but I am just so relieved to finish that length, it's just pure relief," she said.
"Right now it's going to take me a while to re-sign because it was a really hard day but it was such a great day.
"There was no pressure for us and I was just able to go out there and ride my bike all day.
"It's the longest I have ever ridden and I was nervous about the crosswinds and the hills and the bunches but it was a really safe bunch.
"The guys rode amazing and kept it together. Pure relief to be finished."
Raynolds said she would take plenty of positives out of completing the second-oldest one-day race in the world.
"I think just my strength and my ability to hang in there and mentally you keep building these blocks of mental confidence," she said.
"So many times I was off the back or I wanted to stop, wanted the pain to stop because it was too hard and you push through that and that is just another mental block that you can utilise for another race in the future."
To push through the pain and the mental battles there was one thing Raynolds focused on.
"I just didn't want to ride the race by myself," she said.
"I just wanted to have friends and the pace they were holding I knew I wouldn't be able to hold that by myself and I just knew it would be a long day if you got dropped.
"So I just tried to focus on the wheel in front of me and tried to ride good position and tried to cut the race down into little parts and ticking boxes the whole day and not thinking it's 267 kilometres."
Raynolds, who became the fifth women's winner, said she was proud to be part of a growing group of female finishers in the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic.
Thirty-five women have now completed the 125-year-old race.
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