HORSHAM cyclist Mark O'Brien finished the Herald Sun Tour in 11th place after securing a podium finish in the tour's last stage.
The tour's 108 participating riders covered close to 400 kilometres from Williamstown to Arthurs Seat between Thursday and Sunday.
After placing 67th, 29th and 31st in the prologue and first two stages, O'Brien powered home to take third place in the final stage nine seconds behind the leader.
Fellow Horsham cyclist Sam Witmitz, who rode alongside O'Brien in the SASI Cycling-Feelgood Fitness Team, finished the tour in 51st place. Frankston cyclist Calvin Watson, 20, became the youngest rider to win the tour, which celebrated its 60th year.
O'Brien said he was pleased with his performance but would now focus on the Cycling Australia Road National Championships.
"Overall I was happy with how I was riding and the main aim now is the championships this Sunday," he said.
"I was going into the Herald Sun tour hoping to do well but nationals is definitely what I am looking to.
"If you an Australian champion, you get to wear the national colours for the year and that would be a dream come true if I could pull it off."
O'Brien said he had increased his training schedule to prepare for the 196-kilometre national road race.
"I have done more kilometres and am riding at a greater intensity to prepare," he said.
"I am pretty confident saying that I don't think anyone else has done as much work for nationals as I have.
"I think I have to approach all races looking to win so I will try to give myself the best possible race."
O'Brien said Witmitz would also compete in the road race as his support rider.
"Sam will be in there to help me out and help me conserve my energy in the first half of the road race," he said.
"It is a bit of a luxury having your best mate travelling alongside you when you're racing.
"I tend to panic a little bit but he tends to get me to relax and convinces me everything will work out, which it normally does."
Witmitz will aim for a podium finish in the national championship's 44-kilometre criterium event in Ballarat tomorrow.
He said he was in the best form of his career after a solid performance during the Herald Sun Tour.
"I haven't done much racing in the first part of the year so it seems like my form is building," he said.
"I think I should be flying for Thursday night.
"You need a bit of luck in criterium so touch wood hopefully I will get some and get a top ten or a podium result."