It's a long way from riding in the Yunca Junior Tour of Southland to competing in the world's most famous bike race, the Tour de France.
But it's possible; just ask Tom Scully.
The Southland road cyclist, who this year became the region's first rider to compete in the Tour de France, was a keen spectator of the tour's inner city criterium stage on Sunday morning.
A former winner of the junior tour himself, Scully said watching the youngsters "rip around" Invercargill's streets brought back fond memories.
It was where his racing really began, and he hasn't looked back.
"There's been a few kilometres clicked up since then," he said.
Scully is back in New Zealand for several weeks to see his parents and take a rest after a hectic season racing for his United States professional team, EF Education first-Drapac P/B Cannondale.
His highlight was racing in the Tour de France in July, without a doubt
It was an experience that didn't disappoint.
"It definitely is the big show ... the pinnacle of the sport," he said.
The best riders in the world were at peak fitness and racing at an intensity Scully said he had not experienced before.
"You have got all of the best bike riders and everyone is as fast as they are going to be."
Mitchel Fitzsimons, left, of Cycling Southland, talks with Tom Scully, a former Southland cyclist now based in Spain riding for an European cycling team, back in the south resting and watching the Yunca Junior Tour of Southland Criterium race around the Tay St block, Invercargill, on Sunday morning.
His role was as a "helper" for the top rider in his team, whether that meant riding into the wind or doing other hard yards.
He was pleased with his contribution and will be gunning for selection in next year's tour.
Scully heads back overseas next week to begin pre-season training, with his season of racing starting early next year .
Southland's professional road cyclist Tom Scully, who competed in the Tour de France this year, watched youngsters competing in the Yunca Junior Tour of Southland on Sunday, an event he competed in as a teenager.
He is is a fulltime professional cyclist and "enjoying every minute of it".
"I have come a long way since the junior Yunca tour days," he said.
"I have enjoyed the journey and don't want it to stop just yet."
As a youngster Scully spent many hours riding on the Invercargill velodrome and around the region's roads.
He said it was good to be home, and he had enjoyed watching today's youngsters competing in the Yunca Junior Tour of Southland on Sunday.
"It's all there in front of them if they want to go after it."
Article and photos courtesy STUFF - The Southland Times