AFTER months of virtual cycling and no real-time racing, junior riders from across NSW returned to competition at Kurri Kurri for the first race since the COVID-19 shutdown last weekend.
Despite the challenges thrown her way, Port Macquarie cyclist Alani Cockshutt picked up an impressive third-place finish in Sunday's road race.
Cycling NSW chief executive officer Graham Seers said there were 140 competitors from the under-9 through to under-17 age divisions.
"To get a third-place finish in the road stage on a day like Sunday where there were Australian champions in the field is a good result for Alani," Seers said.
The road race was one of three selection events for the NSW team ahead of the national titles which will be held in Wagga Wagga later in the year.
"Everyone's looking forward to getting back to the new normal, whatever that looks like," Seers said.
The conditions were not dissimilar to a typical Spring day in the Netherlands and showed riders what racing was all about.
"The amazing thing on Saturday is it took me three hours to walk fromt the top of the circuit to the bottom which was only around 500 metres," Seers said.
"So I'd describe the conditions as a typical Spring day in the Netherlands because that's what it's often like there."
A weekend deluge saw numerous races cancelled, but the under-15s and under-17s pushed on.
"If the races have a dangerous element to them, they can call them off which they did in the younger categories because the younger kids don't need to go to that extreme that early in their careers," Seers said.
Former Port Macquarie Cycle Club graduate Jonah Hamer also impressed with a victory in the under-17 division.
"He won in a breakaway to win by eight seconds and the course at Kurri Kurri has long enough climbs to break up the field which is what happened," Seers said.
While it was a challenging day, most competitors enjoyed being in race conditions.
"Everyone's looking forward to being able to race again; it's better than virtual racing," Seers said.