Shane Archbold has become used to being a marked man during his short cycling career and even the potential challenge of Olympic medallist Hayden Roulston at next week's Oceania Games in Invercargill doesn't worry him too much.
Archbold will compete in his specialist omnium event - the decathlon of track cycling - at the games at the Southland velodrome, which start tomorrow. A silver medallist in the event at the world championships in the Netherlands in March, he has pulled out of the teams' pursuit to focus on it in a bid to qualify for next year's London Olympics.
Each country can have only one competitor in the omnium at the Olympics and Archbold wants it. So does Roulston, one of New Zealand's most decorated cyclists, but the 22-year-old is relishing the challenge.
"He's a two-time Olympic medallist. Everyone knows he wants to win Olympic gold," Archbold said of Roulston, who won silver and bronze in the individual and teams' pursuit at Beijing three years ago.
"If he's in the teams' pursuit, he'll want to ride the omnium as well. It's also good for me. It keeps me sharp. Obviously the Oceanias will be one of the most important for me in terms of securing a spot.
"The way Hayden is improving, it's obviously going to be a very hard match-up but, thankfully, I've got the experience in the event to bring me through because some of the events are new to Hayden.
"Last time he was riding the omnium, it was just starting up at the Olympics and it wasn't competitive then. There are a couple of events in there that tactically are quite different, with the flying lap for example - it's not just something you can jump on a bike and go well in. If you have a good event there, you're set up for the omnium and, thankfully, that's an event I'm pretty good at."
The six-discipline omnium in Invercargill begins with the flying lap on Wednesday. Other disciplines include a 30km points race, elimination race, individual pursuit, scratch race and time trial. The omnium replaces the individual pursuit, the points race and the madison at the Olympics, starting in London next year.
New Zealanders Aaron Gate (who won the national omnium title at the same track last month) and Marc Ryan will also be riders to watch, along with Australian Scott Law.
"I'm definitely motivated," Archbold said. "It's all I've thought about for the last year. I've pulled out of the teams' pursuit for the Oceania Champs purely because I want to ride the omnium and ride it well. It makes it hard for selection because obviously only a certain number of riders can go to the Olympics and it makes it harder if you're only riding one event but I'm definitely motivated to get that spot."
Archbold goes into the two-day event in good form, having helped PowerNet team-mate Josh Atkins win last month's Tour of Southland. Roulston, the defending champion, had to pull out of the race due to kidney stones.
Archbold took pride in the fact his young team did so well in New Zealand's biggest tour. The leadership role he took will also have helped his development as a rider.
"Growing up, I never chose one event and stuck to it. I always did a bit of this and a bit of that. And it was the same with training, even though I didn't know anything about the omnium, I never let one side of my training slip. It's obviously paying off now."
Even so, his quick rise has taken him by surprise. Now he is the man everyone around the world wants to beat. "After the last season, every race [I won] was a surprise. More and more it was 'oh, that wasn't a fluke, it was pure talent'."