WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Double Olympic rowing champion Hamish Bond proved his cycling credentials on Friday by finishing third in the men's time trial at New Zealand's national road championships.
The 30-year-old Bond was unbeaten in the men's pair for eight years and clinched two Olympic titles with Eric Murray but decided to take a year off from rowing in 2017 and had hinted he may try to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games in cycling.
"I came here to learn really," Bond said after he finished third behind professional Jack Bauer and second placed Jason Christie in the 40km event around Napier. "I was hoping to do a little better to be honest but I am new to all of this.
"That took more out of me than I expected, so now I need to recover for the road race on Sunday."
Bond, who fell off his bike during training and also suffered a bout of gastroenteritis before the championships, had previously raced in multi-stage cycling races, including the Tour of Southland last November.
Most rowers use road cycling to help with their endurance training, though Bond's decision to possibly concentrate on the sport before Tokyo could force a reshuffle of Rowing New Zealand's plans from 2018.
Murray was also granted a leave of absence from rowing competition this year.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien