Promising Southland 14-year-old cyclist Emily Paterson defeated international quality riders to claim the $1000 Open Wheel Race final at the May Magnifique velodrome 10th anniversary carnival on Saturday night.
More than 20 riders qualified for the final, with the race featuring New Zealand elite level representatives and junior, elite and masters World Championship medallists vying for the opportunity to claim the cash prize.
The James Hargest College student was surprised to hold on for the victory ahead of the chasing cyclists in the handicap race.
"It was a really awesome thing to win. I couldn't believe it when I crossed the line," she said.
"I was getting quite anxious because I really liked the prize."
The nature of the race meant that as the youngest rider in the field, Paterson along with eventual second and third placegetters Sammi Ogle and Tayla Lumsden started at the front, riding only four laps, while top riders like New Zealand elite representative Matt Archibald, double junior world champion Campbell Stewart and Southland's Tom Sexton had to complete five laps of the 250 metre track.
The youngsters in the front bunch had to work together as a team for their best chance of claiming victory ahead of the fast finishing big guns at the SIT velodrome.
"They weren't actually that far behind me, I notice in the video Emma Cumming was only a couple of metres behind me and just coming into the straight was Matt Archibald so they weren't too far behind me," she said.
Cumming finished fifth, while Stewart was seventh and Archibald crossed the line in 15th place, while world masters champion Erin Criglington came 18th.
The teenager is unsure what she will do with her winnings, which Cycling Southland believes to be the biggest prize for a track cycling race in New Zealand.
"I have no idea, I have never had this much money before," she said.
The promising rider will take a well earned couple of weeks rest following the two-day event.
She also grabbed third placings in the open division three keirin and elimination races over the weekend.
Meanwhile, New Zealand elite rider Archibald showed his class in the much anticipated race between top level rider and weekend warrior Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton.
Hotton was allowed a flying lap start, but it still wasn't enough of an advantage as the difference between elite level and recreational cyclist was exposed.
"The race didn't quite go as planned and I think there was a bit of an unfair advantage given to Matt – he got a bit of a push at the start of the race and we got the start mixed up," Hotton said.
"That showed how important the little things in races can really make a difference. The tiniest mistake at that level can be the difference between gold and silver."
"But it was a real honour to race someone like Matt and it really showed the difference between a rookie cyclist and a world-class elite rider. The speed at which he blew past me, from a standing start too, was like having a bus blow past."
Palmerston North's Stewart had an impressive two day carnival, including victories in the madison, point a lap mystery dance, 5000m scratch, 12 lap points race and elimination races.
Article and photo courtesy Stuff