This picture sums up Hamish Bond's ambition to succeed as a time triallist.

He defines determination. His mouth hoovers oxygen, his nose drips sweat, his chin offers a free bungy-jump to a stream of unrepentant saliva.

His handlebar grip is firm, his muscles are taut and his eyes are looking three years into the distance, thirsting for a shot at an Olympic medal in Tokyo.

The scene is the road cycling world championships in Bergen, Norway, on September 20, 2017.


Bond finished 39th in a field of 64 riders on the 31km course, clocking 48m 14s.

The spectators' baying glosses over his streamlined attire as he negotiates a 9.1 per cent gradient to the summit of Floyen, one of the city's hills, and merciful relief.

Despite planning his assault with a zeal to rival a Nasa shuttle launch, Bond was left as deflated as the punctured tyre he suffered on the first lap. Without the resources to employ a spare bike, he had dropped off the pace after the first third of the race.

That irked.

Few New Zealand sportspeople are more dedicated than Bond to the science of winning.

"I've always said it in rowing," he says. "You don't want to be the person people say has 'potential'. That just means you have never actually won or done anything.

"Maybe if I had a thicker tyre it wouldn't have happened, but that's splitting hairs; maybe if my bike handling skills were better I could've dodged the debris; but ultimately it was bad luck."

Regardless, Bond believes he has proved something to himself 17 months since sweeping to Olympic glory with Eric Murray in the pair at Rio and completing eight seasons unbeaten.

He has returned to Cambridge from Wellington, where wife Lizzie completed a 12-month rotation as a doctor last year. That places him close to Cycling New Zealand's Avantidrome hub.

Part of Bond's time trial benchmark was winning the national title in Napier on January 5 in 50m 49s — a record time for the 40km course and 2m 17s faster than his third place last year.

Like rowing, cycling courses vary in speed according to conditions, but not enough to discount such a significant improvement. He can now justify going "all in" with his equipment purchases ahead of April's Commonwealth Games and September's world championships, presuming he is selected.

Bond's not presuming anything but if "Plan A" works, a Tokyo strategy will start to form.

"It's an easy year in terms of benchmarking," he says. "It's well-segmented. If it comes drastically unstuck I can still consider my longevity in the sport.

"I'm in discussions with Cycling New Zealand about an overseas stint during winter. There's a possibility of working with their track endurance team. I would piggyback on their resources, and that should make it easier logistically than last year when I went to England as a one-man band.

"In saying that, it was a valuable year. I learnt a lot, particularly in the strong time trial arena of the UK."

He feels comfortable taking that next step in investment.

"A certain level of expenditure is now sunk, so there's no point pinching pennies. I'm not going crazy; there's no blank cheques being waved around by myself or anyone else.

"I feel vindicated by my performance at the nationals. I've said I want to be competitive internationally and you can't achieve that unless you're the fastest, or at least one of the fastest, in the country.

"It wasn't so much the win, it was the manner of it. I felt comfortable I can execute more clinically through time in the saddle. That might have been lacking in Norway."

If Bond triumphs on the world stage, he will have mastered the time trial equation: Juggling aerodynamics, power, and to a lesser extent weight, to maximise speed.

"They're intrinsically linked," he says. "How hard you can pedal and how slippery you make yourself are the major determinants, and weight becomes a factor if it's a hilly course — not so much if it is flat."

The aerobic engine he built during an 11-year elite rowing career has met expectations.

Bond has shrugged off more than 10kg, transforming into a lithe 78kg figure capable of dancing on the pedals.

Last year's expedition to Britain also proved invaluable for reducing his wind resistance.

"I gained a lot of free speed. Probably about a 10 per cent saving in drag. Say you average 50km/h on the course; for that same effort I now go about 1.6km/h faster, which is the difference between first and nowhere."

Hamish Bond during Elite Mens Road Race at Hawke's Bay Summer Cycling Carnival. Photo / Photosport
Hamish Bond during Elite Mens Road Race at Hawke's Bay Summer Cycling Carnival. Photo / Photosport

Bond spent the British summer perfecting his technique and defeating some of the best in the sport. That required some logistical masterstrokes, like packing his life into a van the A-Team would be proud to call their office, and receiving complimentary hospitality throughout Britain courtesy of their rowing community.

He worked with the UK-based AeroCoach company who helped improve his position on the bike.

He also included a detour to ride in the Pyrenees for good measure. That included one day completing five hors categorie climbs — the toughest grading in cycling — across 190km and ascending 7500m. Lizzie acted as his "broom wagon", a cycling term for vehicles that sweep up stragglers.

Bond's attention to detail made him one of the greatest rowers of any era. He has applied the same modus operandi to cycling as he attempts to squish knowledge normally built over a generation into a four-year tilt at the Tokyo Games.

A New Zealand Olympian qualifying in two sports is a rarity — Steven Ferguson (swimming and canoeing), Madonna Harris (cycling and cross-country skiing) and Chris Nicholson (cycling and speed skating) are examples. None earned medals.

To give a global context, 81 athletes have secured medals in separate Olympic sports, but only 14 came post World War II and four were this century. Of the latter four, one came in a transition between two summer sports. Britain's Rebecca Romero went from a silver in rowing's quadruple sculls at Athens to a gold in cycling's individual pursuit at Beijing.

Bond accepts it's rarefied air. Hence he is conducting his sporting experiment with monastic discipline. This year the one "controllable" he wants to perfect is nutrition.

"To a degree there's a process of natural selection in cycling. Just as tall people tend to excel at basketball, skinny people cycle.

"You don't get to the top unless you're bred or naturally predisposed to the sport because you're small enough or lean enough to cut through the wind.

"I was lean in heavyweight rowing terms, but that is nothing compared to lean in cycling terms. Even with lightweight rowing you have a target that you get to [70-72.5kg for men] which meant you could race or not. There's no bottom to cycling."

That doesn't mean putting a padlock on the fridge — Bond needs plenty of calories — but he monitors his intake to optimise his health and weight.

"I'm not starving myself, but probably the major change from rowing has been the quality of the calories I consume. The overall volume is smaller and, because of that, I've focused more on the quality of nutrients to get maximum bang for buck.

"With time-trialling, weight is not as crucial as if you were a regular tour rider going up hills. But, if you can be equally strong without the excess kilos, it's beneficial."

Regardless of Bond's preparation, he knows others in the time-trialling world are formidable opponents. He cites world champion Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands and German Tony Martin. Both regularly contest grand tours, with Dumoulin taking out last year's Giro d'Italia, something Bond has no desire to pursue.

"Maybe the ultimate for a cyclist is to be a road rider on the grand tours but, at 31, I don't have that time. The time trial is more suited to my temperament and ability.

"I'd be spreading myself too thin if I go down that path. There's definitely scope to do racing as a physical and technical development tool, but it has to have an identifiable benefit to time trialling fast. That's the sole focus."

Bond's next step is trying to gain Commonwealth Games selection.

"If I'm picked, I don't just want to participate; I want to perform well. You have to find your own point which is the most efficient trade-off between power, weight and aerodynamics, and that can change depending on the course.

"Sometimes it can feel like tiptoeing to the edge of a cliff in a blindfold. That's the biggest challenge: the unknown of whether you're doing it 'the right way'. But, at some point, you just need to come up with a plan and execute it."