When Southland cyclist Pieter Bulling took time out of the sport as a teenager, he never dreamed that three years later he would be standing on top of the world.
The 21-year-old has become the strong man in New Zealand's men's team pursuit that claimed the world championship gold medal in Paris last week.
The team that rode the final had an average age of just 20 years and while they surprised the world, Bulling was already a believer.
"I knew going away that we were in the medal hunt and then after the qualifying ride I texted my father and told him that I thought we could win this. I had that feeling," Bulling said on the team's arrival back in Auckland this morning.
It has been a massive upward curve for Bulling, who now believes his decision to take a year out of the sport in his second year as a junior was crucial.
"I still think today that was the best thing I did. I wasn't sure cycling was for me. I was with my friends and they were out doing other things and I wanted to be part of that.
"It made me come back to the sport knowing it is what I really wanted to do. I have been giving it 100 per cent since."
It's been a whirlwind since the team pursuit group of Bulling, Regan Gough 18, Dylan Kennett 20, newcomer Alex Frame 21 and double Olympic medallist Marc Ryan 28 earned their rainbow jerseys as world champions.
"It hit me when I got on the plane, sitting down and going through the ride. I thought about what we have achieved as a group and what all those great riders in the past have tried to do and now we have come out and done it."
Bulling is looking forward to some time out but also amping to get back to Cambridge, which he believes has been the key to unlocking their potential.
"Cambridge has been huge. You saw it with the sprinters and now with the endurance boys. Having everyone there training and living together, going through the ups and downs together, really brings us close. It gives us more trust in eachother that we are out there doing the training.
"When you go away on campaigns there's no stress because we all know to respect one another. We know what stresses each of us and it all helps. We get on so well.
"The benefits are a lot to do with our team culture, but technically having the gym, the recovery areas, the mechanics, our coaches, our key staff, physio and massage all right there is huge."
He is under no illusions about the challenges ahead, but is excited about the prospects.
"It has been a huge commitment. When you do win or medal you realise that all the hard work has paid off and how much worthwhile it is.
"We are going to be huge targets from here. Because we are such a young team, the rest of the world know that we are only going to get better so they will be looking at us big time.
"For me I definitely have a big future because I am only 21. Right now my total focus is going into 2016 aimed at Rio and then I will reassess after then to see if I will continue in the sport or look at something else."
The team is now on a break and will be back to training next month, with the sprint group to head to USA and the endurance riders to Europe for training and racing during the New Zealand winter.