INDIANA Michel has claimed the 55th Fred Icke Memorial Handicap.
The 17-year-old was a surprise winner of the prestigious race after pipping Ballarat's Phil Orr on the line in a bunch sprint at Creswick on Saturday.
Michel won in a time of three hours, 20 minutes and 57 seconds off a 29-minute handicap, with St Kilda's Christopher Harney placing third.
Stellar conditions and a powerful group of about 20 riding off the 29-minute mark ensured that the scratch riders had no chance of catching up the rest of the field.
The challenging 132-kilometre circuit (three laps) through the Creswick area and the uphill finish caught the winner by surprise.
"It was pretty hard (in the end), I couldn't see the line," he said of the frenetic finish.
"I had my head down over the handlebars and was going for it - in the sprint I thought I didn't have the legs but I just came over them in the end.
"One of the cars came past (race radio) and told us that we had a 1.40 gap over the chasers and that's where we realised we could hold it, because there was only 15 kilometres left."
Many of the 150 odd starters pulled out before the conclusion of the race after failing to maintain tempo across the rolling terrain.
Orr, 39, was pleased with his result after an extended period away from road racing.
"It was a bit surprising but the conditions were good and suited us front markers," he said.
"We had a pretty good group of workers which meant we could ride at a fairly quick pace without hurting each other.
"I kind of felt like I had a bit of pressure on my shoulders because it was a really good mark for me - I just snuck in under the handicappers radar and he gave me a good mark."
Meanwhile Kristy Glover of Wellington took out the women's race ahead of Rachel Ward (Bendigo) and Tessa Farby (Brunswick).
African Wildlife Safaris rider James Rendall took the fastest time honours with a blistering ride of 2:57.28 while Michel's win saw him take home first prize in the under-19 division.
Orr's Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club compatriot Andrew Sullivan was awarded the title of first unplaced Ballarat rider.