FEW expected local riders to play a prominent part in the first road race of the season, especially when the organising club, VC St Raphael Waite Contracts, received late entries from Julian Winn and Bradley Wiggins.

Winn is a Welsh international from Abergavenny who became the first British rider to win a stage in the PruTour in 1998.

And Wiggins won a junior world title in the same year before adding an Olympic medal to a growing list of successes on the international stage.

Those two wasted no time in showing their class, linking up with the Belgian-based Winchester star, Robert Hurd (RCS Bioagrico), and Paul Pickup (Liphook Cycles RT), another Hampshire man whose team-mate, Jason Hoy, won this race in a sprint finish last year.

Roland Tilley (Team Xtreme) from Ensbury Park surprised more distinguished rivals to snatch third place on that occasion, but admitted after finishing this Perf's Pedal Race in 10th spot that he reckoned the early move would not last the distance.

Unfortunately for Tilley and William O'Callaghan, Eamonn Deane (Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers) and Richard Eastham (VC Saint Lo Pont Hebert) the other local men to finish, the leading four shared the lead for the rest of the 45 miles. They were lapping the hilly 8.5 mile circuit near Winchester in about 20 minutes on each of the five laps they were together.

The race ended with the Welshman leading out to hold off an equally fast finishing Pickup by two lengths.

Wiggins, currently without a team following the sudden collapse of the professional Linda McCartney squad last month, was seemingly content to follow the pair across the line after Hurd lost all his chances of winning when he pulled his foot out of a pedal with 200 metres to go.

In making the top 10, Tilley won the consolation sprint from the main group by one second from O'Callaghan, with Eastham only another four seconds away in 12th place after stopping to replace a dislodged chain on the last lap.

* The 17th and final round of the Wessex Cyclo-Cross League takes place at Oxford on Sunday, with Bournemouth's Stuart Bowers (Bargroves Cycles RT) poised to take the title won, but not defended by, Jubilee Wheeler Richard Rumbelow last year.

Tony Green (GA Cycles) is the current leader, with 209 points, but he can only add to that tally by improving on past performances, while Bowers still has one race in hand, and with it the opportunity of adding up to another 25 points to his present tally.

Bowers' New Forest team-mate, Ben Saunders, in fifth place with 167 points, also has every incentive to go for broke.

He has only contested seven meetings this winter and a good result for him will lift him up to the third place occupied at present by Trevor Hillier (Dorset Rough Riders) with 187 points.

Hillier's young team-mates, Thomas Budd and Branton Roud, are already assured of the youth and under-12 titles.

* Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers' fourth and final reliability ride of the winter proved to be a tough one, with a strong head-wind facing the riders over the last 15 miles from Burley.

Only nine battled through it, with most of the other dozen starters taking the easy option of returning straight back from the halfway point at Blandford. The full distance was 100 miles.

Race results, Perf's Pedal Race, Owslebury: 1, Julian Winn (Welsh CH), 45 miles in 1h 55m. 2, P Pickup (Liphook Cycles RT) in s.t. 3, B Wiggins (World Class Performance Plan) @ 6s. 4, R Hurd (RCS Biogrico) @ 11s. 5, R Horner (VC St Raphael) @ 1m.28s. 6, D Axford (BCF private member) in s.t. 7, P Swettenham (Child Line Evans RT) @ 1m 30s. 8, C Birch (VC St Raphael) @ 1m 32s. 9, K Page (SP Systems) @ 1m 40s. 10, R Tilley (Team Xtreme) @ 3m 5s. 11 W O'Callaghan (Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers) @ 3m 6s. 12, R Eastham (VC St Le Pont Hebert) @ 3m 10s. 14, E Deane (Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers) @ 4m 23s. N Parkinson (Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers) @ 11m.