HORSHAM cyclist Jason Niblett was a shock winner in round one of the Japanese Keirin Series.
Niblett, 27, was given a two-year contract as one of five international cyclists to compete in the series alongside Japanese keirin stars in March.
Japanese riders traditionally dominate the series and Niblett was considered an outsider in the event.
The series events are run over three days with two qualification rounds before a final, with races at different outdoor venues.
Niblett went to Japan earlier this month and had to complete nine days at `keirin school', before doing three days of `track school' to qualify to race in the lucrative series.
He would have been sent home if he failed `Keirin school'.
Niblett finished second on the first day, to qualify for the second day where he finished second to make the final.
He was the only international rider to make the final and defeated eight seasoned Japanese riders.
Niblett said it was a different experience, with bookmakers having a market on the fields and all riders having to use `old-school' steel bikes.
"It is different riding these races," Niblett said.
"We are on steel bikes, get flat tyres, on outdoor tracks and with different pedals making it very hard.
"It is so different that we win in like 11 seconds, which is very slow, but we are flat out going nowhere."
He said even the equipment was different, wearing long-sleeved cycling outfits, with chest and arm padding and big helmets.
Niblett will be in Japan for at least three months but could stay longer, depending on whether he was selected in the Australian Commonwealth Games team. He will compete in events most weekends.
Niblett's mother Joy has eagerly watched her son compete from her Horsham home.
Mrs Niblett watched her son win the event on the internet with the only word she recognised being `Nibbla' when the commentator called Niblett in the race.
Wimmera cyclist Sam Witmitz finished second in his first cycling tour, warming up for the Tour of Malaysia.
Witmitz, who headed to Malaysia to join best friend Mark O'Brien in team Le Tua, finished second in the first and second stage of the Melaka Governor's Cup to finish second overall behind Irish cyclist David McCann.
Witmitz's father Geoff said it was a great achievement.
"Sam was pipped on the line by the smallest of margins in stage two of the Melaka Governors Cup denying his first international event stage victory," Mr Witmitz said.
"Although victory eluded Sam, his second placing put him on the podium both for the stage and also for the overall general classification for the UCI class 2.2 event.