Robbie McEwen pedalled out of retirement for one joyous day to claim a hugely popular victory in the Noosa Criterium on Saturday.
At the finish I just started laughing my head off because it was so much fun.
McEwen, 40, officially retired from professional cycling after the Tour of California earlier this year, ending a career highlighted by his three green jerseys as the leading sprinter in the Tour de France.
McEwen now works as a sprint coach for Orica-GreenEDGE.
But he has stayed in shape for a race he is organising on the Gold Coast later this month by going on two-hour training rides several days a week.
And it paid dividends on Saturday as the Queenslander timed his run to the line to perfection, holding off the challenge of Jonathan Cantwell to claim the winner's prize of $4400.
"I just went out today without any expectations," said McEwen.
"Actually, if I had any expectation it was that I would really struggle, make up the numbers and finish in midfield.
"But I kept myself in contention, right in position, and after 20 years of racing you can use your experience to save a bit of energy at the end and I managed to sneak through.
"At the finish I just started laughing my head off because it was so much fun.
"I didn't expect to feel that ever again.
"To get up today was a surprise, even to me, but a very nice one."
Cantwell was second and fellow Australian Thomas Collier was third.
Lauren Kitchen came over the top of Ruth Corset to win the women's Noosa Criterium after the Australians had staged a two-rider breakaway with several laps to go. Loren Rowney was third.
“We had a plan and a few different options, but I was just hanging in there knowing we had Rochelle (Gilmore) behind and once she gave me the all clear I came through to help Ruth (Corset), and I just hoped I had the legs at the finish and then it came off so I’m really happy," said Kitchen.
1 Robbie McEwen
2 Jonathan Cantwell
3 Ryan MacAnally
4 Jay McCarthy
5 Malcolm Rudolph
6 Daniel McCulloch
7 Samuel Wood
8 Anthony Kellen
9 Aaron Kemps
10 Greg Henderson
1 Lauren Kitchen
2 Ruth Corset
3 Loren Rowney
4 Kimberley Wells
5 Rochelle Gilmore
6 Samantha Hemsley
7 Nicole Moerig
8 Kartin Garfoot
9 Sarah Roy
10 Brittany Lindores