Hamish Bond has produced a stirring climb up Coronet Peak to claim third on stage three of the Tour of Southland.
The former rower-turned-cyclist is tackling the race to keep in shape over summer and he's determined to capitalise on a year that's given him the drive needed to chase Olympic glory in 2020.
The Tour of Southland is the country's most prestigious stage race and Bond has tackled it twice before.
"I did it once back when I was a full rower - 90-plus kgs, hairy legs, struggling a lot back in 2009," Bond told Newshub.
Despite earlier insisting he wouldn't switch sports, Bond hung up the oars after the Rio Olympics to take up elite cycling. He made the New Zealand team for this year's Commonwealth Games, where he won bronze medal.
"It sounds pretty ruthless, but that was probably the bare minimum required to keep digging down the rabbit hole to see where the bottom is."
These are all stepping stones in his goal of making the Tokyo Olympics.
Last month, the 32-year-old finished in the middle of the world champs time trial pack and wasn't about to waste all that training.
"I felt like I'd done a lot of work to get myself into great shape and then what was I going to do, put my feet up and just go to seed?"
Teammate and defending champion James Picolli has been impressed with the former rower's ability and attitude.
"Someone like Hamish, who has endurance training and the mindset of a champion, that all translates super easily into the sport of cycling," said Picolli.
The tour will give Bond the short-term focus he's seeking, as he looks towards the steep challenges ahead.