Nelson cyclist George Bennett has his sights set on the best riders in the world after picking up his maiden pro title.
The 27 year old won the Tour of California, the first New Zealander to win a UCI world tour title.
Bennett managed to avoid any trouble on the 125km final stage into Pasedena to record a 35 second victory.
Bennett grabbed the yellow jersey after finishing fourth in the penultimate stage yesterday.
Bennett had little time to savour his result, nor the Lexus RX Sports Utility that he was awarded, as the team headed immediately to fly back to Europe, where the Kiwi will now refocus with renewed endeavor towards his second start in the Tour de France in July.
He said the win is a big stepping stone to his goal of competing against the best in the world.
"I hope I take a lot from this, in confidence and backing from the team and things like that. I want to build on this. I want to take it back to Europe and keep racing in the same manner in Europe where you have the likes of Froome and Valverde which is a huge step up and that's the next goal to starting chipping away and work at getting closer to those guys."
Cycling New Zealand CEO Andrew Matheson said George has dedicated himself completely to improving as a professional rider.
"I am sure George will use this result as the catalyst for even bigger things to come.
"This is a special day for George, his team and his family. It shows that if you have talent, belief, complete dedication and the right attitude then a young man from Nelson can succeed in cycling on the world stage, Matheson said.