Jack Bauer spent "all of three seconds" on a royal throne at Hampton Court Palace, a final, surreal experience of a satisfying Olympic debut.
The New Zealand cyclist finished 19th in the men's time trial amid chaotic scenes as Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins delivered the gold medal his nation demanded.
Bauer was the 12th of 37 competitors to take off on the 44km ride, and his time of 54min 54.16sec had him momentarily in the top-three.
Fittingly in the regal surroundings, the top-three sat on thrones in front of King Henry XIII's former residence until incoming riders bettered their time as they arrived at 90sec intervals.
The 27-year-old from Takaka was soon moved on, but could hold his head high after he finished 10th in Saturday's brutal road race when he was primarily Greg Henderson's designated backup.
"I hope I did New Zealand proud. I gave it my all. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's been the biggest honour I've ever had to be selected for my country and bear the weight of cycling's expectations back home. I'm really proud to be here and be flying the flag."
Tour de France champion Wiggins thrilled the huge home crowd which lined the Surrey streets and waved their British flags, winning gold in a time of 50min 39.54sec, a mammoth 42sec clear of Germany's Tony Martin.
Bauer, meanwhile, had plenty of Kiwi support and got a rousing ovation as he pedalled back through the palace gates.
Among them were his parents, Hans and Caroline, who'd missed his road race epic.
"They were in Germany on Saturday for my cousin's wedding so they missed the road race. A clash of priorities there," he said with a laugh.
Expectations weren't huge of Bauer today and he nearly didn't make it after misjudging a sweeping turn around the 15km mark.
"There was a big right hand corner and I had my head down and came in at 55kmh, I thought it was a roundabout that I was going straight through. I don't know how I kept the bike upright but I did. I lost all my speed. It takes a big effort to get back up to pace and I panicked a bit and I guess things fell apart from there."
Bauer now returns to his Spanish base to continue racing for his Garmin Barracuda team. His contract ends this year but he hinted he'd signed with another team, although he couldn't reveal details.
Having got a taste, he'd love to be considered for the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in four years' time.
"Yeah why not. It's a long way from here and I don't know what will happen between now and then but I wouldn't pass up another opportunity to do it all again.
"It's something different wearing your country's colours. It's something I've always wanted to do since I was a young kid. And Olympics level is the pinnacle. The whole experience has been over and above anything I've experienced before."
- © Fairfax NZ News