Until last weekend, Olympic rowing champion Hamish Bond had enjoyed a relatively smooth ride through his early endeavours as a road cyclist.

Last month, he blitzed a field that included Tour de France rider George Bennett to take out the inaugural 158km Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge by more than five minutes.

Late last year, he finished eighth in the seven-stage Tour of Southland, mixing it with hardened roadies like Hayden Roulston, Michael Torckler and winner Aaron Gate in some of the most testing conditions the domestic calendar can offer.

Bond is no stranger to the roads of New Zealand, having popped up on the start-line at various times during his career, usually between rowing campaigns. So his presence at the national road championships in Napier was greeted with considerable expectation.

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With the unbeatable Bond/Eric Murray pair in hiatus (and perhaps gone forever), were we about to witness the next great cross-code switcheroo?

The jury is still out. Although a third placing in the 40km time trial hinted at his potential, his 14th finish in the 169km road race two days later showed he still had a lot to learn.

Bond admitted as much during the day between races.

"Very pleased with the [time trial] result, and to be on the podium alongside Jason [Christie] and Jack [Bauer]," he told Radio Sport's Guy Heveldt. "Obviously, they're two seasoned professionals, with a lot of experience.

"I think, in my mind, there's plenty more in the tank and I'm not overly satisfied with my performance, but that's just my nature.

"It's very pleasing to know that I'm in amongst it and I guess it's a good place to be starting out."

Clearly, Bond is not one to dwell on successes and is always looking for ways to improve. To this end, he has approached his cycling campaign with an open mind, soaking up advice from others around him.

One such confidante is two-time Olympic track medallist and former road professional Jesse Sergent, who retired last year, after being hit by a service car during the 2015 Tour of Flanders.

"I brought Jesse in a few weeks ago and we've done a few sessions together, helping me with position on the bike and just trying to take some of the mistakes away before they happen," said Bond.

"Yesterday, he rode in the car behind me and gave me some pointers around the course. He's been very generous with his time - he's probably New Zealand's best time trialist and definitely a good person to have on my team."

To many, the correlation between rowing and cycling may come as a surprise, although, in reality, many rowers use the bike as a cross-training tool, when they can't get near the water.

Perhaps the greatest similarity between the two disciplines is the need to push through pain barriers.

"Pushing hard and training hard are the toughest things to learn, and that takes people years and years.

"I've sort of got that and then it's just the small percentages here and there that I need to make some improvements."

Through these early stages, Bond is better suited to the time trial, where the rider is essentially competing against clock and road, without the tactics required of a peloton.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for Bond from his national championship foray was his inability to recover between events. Even 24 hours out from the road race, he felt he would struggle to back up from the time trial.

"I found my power tailing off over the second lap quite a bit, which was a bit disappointing, because that's where I would have anticipated being strong. Maybe a lot of that is going out and learning that pacing for a race.

"I've got to go away and figure out why there wasn't more there. It was certainly hard, and it was hard early and prolonged."

If Bond has proved one thing, it is his ability to suffer with the very best of them.

He's Olympic-class at that.