Brenton Jones's hopes of a fairytale finish to his cycling career got a huge boost with the former Bay Crits champion taking out race one in Geelong.
Jones won the Bay Crits in 2014 and announced before this year's race that it would be his swansong after almost 20 years in the saddle in Australia and Europe.
It was a day for former champions to shine with defending titleholder Ruby Roseman-Gannon winning the elite women's opening stage to wear the yellow jersey on day two.
The send-off for Jones couldn't have gone better with his Bayside Citroen teammate Blake Quick - who he helped to victory last year - returning the favour.
Quick did the lead-out work and was first to celebrate as his 31-year-old teammate surged from the pack to take line honours.
Commonwealth Games representative Graeme Frislie was second with Blake Agnoletto heading a trio of ARA Skip Capital riders across the line.
Victorian Jones said the team rode to the hot conditions well to put him in the position for victory with two stages ahead.
"I can't thank Blake and the boys enough as it was a sensational lead-out - they must have been copying someone from last year," Jones joked.
"It was a great day today and I'm really happy to get the win for the boys.
"I've never worn the yellow jersey before in the race, only at the end, so hopefully I can keep it."
Also riding in the Bayside Citroen team, 24-year-old Roseman-Gannon was the favourite heading into day one.
She lived up to her top billing, edging veteran Olympian Amanda Spratt (Novotel Prestige Jayco) in the sprint to the line, with Peta Mullens (Roxsolt Liv SRAM) third across after a breakaway group of three were reeled in before the final lap.
Triple Commonwealth Games champion Georgia Baker finished fifth, riding for her teammate Roseman-Gannon, who made her European team debut last year with Team BikeExchange Jayco.
"It was a hot one and we wanted to be aggressive and I think we were ... that's the way I like to race," the Victorian told reporters.
"It was a bunch sprint and I had a great lead-out from the team - I can always depend on Georgia and my other teammates and I pulled it off."
With temperatures reaching 35C, riders faced 50 minutes of gruelling racing plus three 1.9km laps.
As well as points for their line finish from first down to 12th, cyclists could also pick up points for intermediate sprints during the race.
Keely Bennett (Team Bridgelane) led the sprint classification, a point clear of three riders including Roseman-Gannon while solo rider Tom Chester has a three-point buffer in the men's.
The race will return to the Eastern Gardens venue in Geelong on Monday.