Outstanding young Christchurch rider Michael Vink is poised to create a piece of cycling history when he competes in the national road race championship on the Cashmere-Halswell circuit on Sunday.
Vink was first across the line in both the under-23 and elite divisions last year, and as well as that repeat double he's also chasing a hat-trick of under-23 titles.
After Sunday's 183km race the 21-year-old, nicknamed the Vinkinator because of the formidable list of triumphs on his cycling CV already, is switching his focus to track and the track nationals in Invercargill at the end of the month.
He hopes to ride at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and sees track as the best chance, probably in the individual or team pursuit. Third place in the 8km race against Olympic riders in last weekend's track carnival at Denton Park was an encouraging start.
However, his training this summer has been for the road and with victory in the Tour de Vineyards in Nelson after Christmas, he will be the most carefully watched rider on Sunday, even alongside the likes of Greg Henderson and previous winners Hayden Roulston and Jack Bauer.
"There is a real quality field and a mix of abilities with sprinters, climbers, and all-rounders, so it will be really interesting to see how it plays out," said Vink.
He feels "fit and strong" for it. "All the elements are there, and it's a matter of bringing them together to perform on the day."
The 12-lap race will finish with a sprint-friendly extra lap this time, and rather than racing 20km on the flat to finish, Vink wishes the last lap was going up the hill. However, if the change brought more riders to the race, it was a good decision, he said.
Vink confounded officials when he was first overall as well as heading the under-23 field last time, a feat never achieved before.
This year the elite riders would have to watch for the under-23s, which would produce some interesting dynamics because there were some strong riders in that age grade, he said.
Vink spent seven months in Belgium last year with a team based at Zottegem, and hopes to be close to there again this year if he's selected for a Bike NZ road and track squad expected to go to Belgium in March. Sunday's race and the track nationals give him a chance to clinch a spot this month.