After finishing runner-up in last year's event, rising Australian cycling star Luke Plapp went one better to claim the 2019 Merv Dean Memorial Tour of Bendigo title on Monday.
The dual junior world champion on the track showed he has a big future on the road as well as he cruised to an eight second win over InForm TM Insight MAKE team-mate Jarrad Drizners.
Echuca-Moama's Trent Stevenson was a further 19 seconds back in third place.
"Last year was awesome to finish second to (world champion) Sam Welsford, so this year I came here with high ambitions and it was awesome to get the win,'' 18-year-old Plapp said.
Plapp was made to work hard for the overall victory in Monday's final stage - a criterium at the Huntly Livestock Exchange.
Stevenson, Chase Costello-Manning and Liam Edwards broke away from the peleton mid-race.
Crucially for Plapp, they were joined by Bendigo's Sam Eddy - a member of the InForm TM Insight MAKE squad.
Stevenson, who entered the final stage 25 seconds behind Plapp, and the other three riders led the peleton by 23 seconds with three-quarters of the stage complete.
However, the heavy workload, combined with a strong headwind in the home straight, took its toll on the breakaway group and the peleton reeled them in.
That set up a sprint finish for stage honours and it was Norwood's Russell Gill who won the battle from Bendigo's Julian Thomson and Melbourne's Godfrey Slattery.
Plapp cruised across the finish line in fourth place.
"(The breakaway group) were just dangling there for a while,'' Plapp said.
"That headwind was brutal, so it was always going to be hard for them."
Originally from Brunswick, Plapp is now based in Adelaide where he is coached by former Bendigo rider Tim Decker in the Cycling Australia track program.
"It was special to come here and support this race because of Tim,'' Plapp said.
"Tim made it clear that he wanted one of us to get up and win and continue the tradition.
"You look at the past winners of this race there's some pretty awesome names on that list. It's great to have my name alongside some of them."
Plapp's major short-term goals centre around track events, but down the track he has dreams of racing the feature road events in Europe.
"My aim is to ride at the Tokyo Olympics next year,'' Plapp said.
"I'll probably stay on the track for the next Commonwealth Games and the Olympics after that and then look to the road and ride on the World Tour.
"We head to Spain tonight for three months in Gerona for training and races. I'll keep mixing things up for a while."
Sam Eddy was the best placed Bendigo rider overall, finishing fifth.
Eddy, who is juggling his cycling career with Year 12 commitments at Girton Grammar, was pleased with the way he rode.
"After coming off a week off the bike, I had no expectations going into the race, but I was really surprised with how good my legs were all weekend,'' Eddy said.
"I think today is the hardest I've ever had to ride. The wind didn't make life easier.
"It was nice to support the boys and see the team get two riders on the podium.
"Hopefully, next year I can step up and finish on the podium."
Julian Thomson (seventh) was the only other lcoal rider to complete the tour.
Thomson has finished inside the top eight the past two years after finishing fifth in 2018.
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