The momentous nature of George Bennett's Tour of California win has been put into context by past and present New Zealand cycling professionals.
Julian Dean, who competed in 19 grand tours, described the feat as a "coming of age", 13-time pro stage winner Greg Henderson called it "a fantastic stepping stone", and nine-season pro Sam Bewley said Bennett's progression was "incredible and well deserved".
Bennett became a pioneer; the first Kiwi to win a World Tour title since the system's 2009 introduction by the sport's governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale.
He had principally been considered a climber since turning professional in 2011. His success for LottoNL-Jumbo, by expanding into contesting for general classification in California, has generated extra interest among fans to see how he performs in the Tour de France, which starts in four weeks.
Thirteen New Zealanders have contested Le Tour since Harry Watson's 1928 debut. Bennett's maiden appearance came last year. He has previously ridden five grand tours across France, Spain and Italy.
"New Zealand has had a record of strong sprint-type riders, but George's win is significant as something that hasn't been achieved before," Dean said.
"I think we are only starting to see George come of age [at 27]. I'd say the best years for cyclists are generally 28-32. George has been doing the hard yards for years and it is starting to show.
"With results such as his top 10 finish in the Vuelta a Espana [Spain's grand tour] last year, and now the win in California, his confidence will grow. As any athlete knows, that is often the last piece needed to complete the puzzle in their development."
Henderson finished 25th on the general classification in California for the United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team. He said that the calibre of competition was not the equivalent of a Criterium du Dauphine or Paris-Nice Race, but should still be celebrated.
"The reason I'm pointing that out is because there is no need to think that all of a sudden he will be on the podium of a GT [grand tour] this year. Maybe in three or four years if he continues to improve... but let's not put unrealistic pressure on him.
"It's a great victory. Winning the GC in any race means being consistently good every day.
"In my opinion, the breakthrough for him was his TT [time trial]. To ride quick in that discipline as a climbing expert is the key ingredient a lot of pure climbers lack."
Henderson said it was part of an upward projection for a talented grand tour rider.
"Once he relaxes more in the peloton, and doesn't stress the small stuff in bunch racing, he will save more energy and be even faster.
"The next stepping stone would be to win or podium in a large one-week race like Paris-Nice, the Dauphine or the Tour of Switzerland. He is capable. When this happens....look out."
"His potential has always been big," Bewley said from Girona, his Spanish base where he is training after surgery on a broken finger.
"He's always believed that, even when others may not have. He's proven that he is a rider who can win at the highest level. His potential is obvious and his belief will be twice as big now. I don't think that is going to be George's last win.
"There have been Kiwi victories in Europe over the years in stages of races, and even overall. I think it's easier to look at how significant this is for George. This is the result of perseverance and dedication through tough times.
"Now he's stood on the top step after edging so close on a few occasions since the Tour de France last year, he has momentum and belief. Those are significant things in sport."
Bennett's achievement underlines a blossoming New Zealand international cycling presence across the past generation.
Dean cycled his first grand tour in 1999 and his last in 2012. He said commitment has been the biggest obstacle in the past, but that has changed this century.
"It is the world's hardest endurance sport and even at the Tour of Italy this past month [where Dean worked as a sprint tactician for the Orica-Scott team] I wonder how I did it when I watch the guys put themselves through the wringer. It is nothing but brutal.
"It also requires a cultural adaptation when setting up in Europe and getting comfortable with the lifestyle. The support of family and friends is key.
"Nowadays there are many different pathways to the World Tour level. My team, for example, is Australian owned and registered, but our best riders are Colombian and British."
Bewley believes it reflects a perception that New Zealanders are hard-working and loyal teammates which earns respect.
"Much of it comes down to exposure. We are a small country at the opposite end of the world to Europe, where cycling is in the blood. We have to find a way into that scene. It's not easy to be a lone kiwi fighting amongst hundreds of Europeans for a spot at the top level.
"We have a lot of young guys racing at pro-continental level who are knocking on the door. Our presence is continuing to grow."
Bennett is making sure of that.