WILL Hodges brought plenty of heat to a cold and blustery Bathurst Cycling Club handicap event on Saturday as the National Road Series rider passed the entire field to win from scratch.
Saturday's first competitive event in several months unsurprisingly attracted a huge field of riders as cyclists from across the city were eager to shake off the rust after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
Even with Hodges giving up 17 and a half minutes to other riders he was still able to pass rider after rider to be the first home at the end of St John's Road, beating Mark Windsor and Daniel Googe.
With almost 50 people taking part in the first race back Hodges said it was a special day for cycling in the city.
"It was amazing to see so many people out there supporting the event. It was a cold and windy day, so not the nicest day to be out there on the bike, but I think everyone got around the fact that the club's trying to get the sport back on the scene," he said.
"The windy conditions definitely made the race favourable for the guys at the back of the race who can ride better in these conditions. We rolled turns all day before I ended up getting to the front and taking the win with a decent gap. My legs felt really good and it's great feeling like that with bigger races coming up.
"Halfway through the race we were catching other groups ... but the other two guys weren't going as strongly as me. They knew that so they worked hard to get me as close as they could."
Crosswinds were always going to play into the hands of backmarker trio Hodges, Tom Bolton and Craig Hutton but it was the former rider who had the extra kick he needed to pull away from the field.
Past half way point and the trio of Scott Allen, Cameron Crump and Michael Robinson found themselves with the lead past the halfway point and looked like strong winning chances.
Mick Foran, Vanessa Bennett and Glen Carter were on the chase for the leading group but by the time they got in range the backmarkers had arrived on the scene.
Hodges pushed past the leading group on the run towards St John's Road and went on with the job to keep his distance ahead of Windsor.
Carter, Will Lesh, Jack Cannon, Foran, Dave Reece, Tony Shaw and Bennett rounded out the top 10.