Blinco blitzes quality field to win feature race in Bundy
CYCLING: "Surprised and overwhelmed.”
That is how Rockhampton's pocket rocket Deneaka Blinco felt after winning the elite women's feature race at the Auswide Bank International Cycling Spectacular in Bundaberg at the weekend.
The 14-year-old left a star-studded field of older and more experienced riders in her wake as she powered to victory in the 1600m wheel race.
"I was not expecting to win it. I was surprised and overwhelmed,” Deneaka said after claiming the coveted trophy.
"I was probably hoping for a top five finish at best.
"I was just going into it hoping to do my best and I did do my best and it worked out for me.”
Deneaka started on the 80m mark, with the majority of the field in front of her. New Zealand duo Emily Shearman and Nicole Shields were behind her.
"When we started I gave it everything I had to get up to the riders in front,” she said, replaying Saturday's big event.
"I sat in the train until I got my energy back and once I recovered, around the two-lap mark, I just went and ended up winning by about 80m.”
Deneaka's win impressed Shearman, who said: "She's one to look out for in the future, definitely.”
As an under-17 rider, Deneaka had to ride on aluminium wheels rather than carbon ones and with lower gearing than her adults rivals which made the victory even sweeter.
Saturday was a great night for Deneaka, who finished second in both the keirin and the scratch, behind the New Zealanders.
Deneaka's Bundaberg success comes just a month after she won four gold, two silver and a bronze medal in the under-17 division at the state cycling championships in Brisbane.
That medal haul earned her a place in the 23-member Queensland team to compete at next month's national championships in Melbourne.
Mum Cherie said the Bundaberg carnival was all about giving Deneaka a "good hit-out” before nationals.
"We had no real expectations going into the carnival because she was stepping up from under-15 last year to race against the elite women,” she said.
"She just rode brilliantly down there, and to out-sprint the calibre of riders in that field really was an amazing achievement.”
Deneaka is now ramping up her training in preparation for the nationals, and will head to Brisbane on the Australia Day weekend for a camp with the Queensland team.
Her inspiring weekend results will have her riding high when she wheels onto the Darebin International Sports Centre Velodrome to take on the country's best next month.
"I would love to win a medal at the nationals. If I did that I would be over the moon,” she said.