Marc Ryan prefers the term "experienced", rather than "veteran".
The 31-year-old three-time, double bronze medal-winning Olympic representative is the senior member of the BikeNZ men's endurance squad.
Now that Jesse Sergent, Sam Bewley and Hayden Roulston have moved on to professional road careers, and Wes Gough and Myron Simpson are out with injury, Ryan's experience has been vital to a new-look team pursuit squad which includes 19-year-old Dylan Kennett and 20-year-old Pieter Bulling.
"I've spent all year in Belgium with the young guys, looking after them. I know them well enough and it's just about learning how they ride now. The last team, we did everything together for six years, it takes a while to get used to riding with new guys," Ryan said.
"It's about laying down a performance as smooth as possible. It's about getting used to these young guys, they've got a lot more snap than the old team where we used to just go straight to speed and then hold it. These guys have got quite a bit of horsepower under the hood."
Ryan has not committed himself to another full Olympic cycle, having made his debut in Athens in 2004.
"They might not let me stay in the team with the way the young guys are going. I'll take it step by step for now. The first goal will be the Commonwealth Games and we'll see how we are tracking after that," he said.
"I love the competition. They reckon I'm in the best form of my life, but I don't know about that. Having a year off after the Olympics, that was my first break away from the track in 10 years. I've come back and I'm loving it."
Ryan has hopes of joining the coaching ranks when his riding days are done, an ambition BikeNZ head coach Dayle Cheatley supports.
"Technically, I can pick little holes in every single rider. That's the way I do it with the teams pursuit, I analyse every single rider in the team, not just the guy that's in front of me when I'm riding. That just helps them in the process of becoming world class."
The men's endurance squad is dominated by South Canterbury riders, with Ryan joined by fellow Timaru cyclist Shane Archbold and Kennett, from nearby Waimate.
South Canterbury was a relatively small cycling centre, but it had excellent support in place for producing top riders, Ryan said.
"Success breeds success basically. If you are riding around good riders week in, week out, you are going to move up to a good level. It's the same with me coming through with Heath [Blackgrove] and Hayden [Roulston] as well, it's just the way our centre is," he said.
"We've always been looked after well, first by my dad [former top sprinter Colin], and then when the scientific side comes in he passes us on. There's lots of good guys in the club and the level of racing has always been high. It's some of the hardest racing I've done in New Zealand."
- © Fairfax NZ News