Kiwi beats teammate for bronze medal

By Dylan Cleaver

Before making his debut at a senior world championships in Copenhagen this year, there was one job cyclist Sam Webster had to do.

On his walls were photos of his cycling heroes, including Sir Chris Hoy. Such idolatry, he figured, wasn't going to help him much if he suddenly found himself racing the great man.

If he continues his rapid rise, soon they'll be printing posters of the 19-year-old Aucklander.

Webster, who won three world junior titles in 2009, has made the transition to senior ranks look easy. Some of his massive potential was in evidence last night as he beat well-credentialled compatriot Eddie Dawkins 2-0 in the ride-off for bronze in the sprint.

"You sit down when you're a junior and watch these other guys race and think, 'Right, if I'm in that situation I'm going to try that'. To then come up against guys I idolised," he says, pausing for a moment.

"Just before the world champs I ended up taking down photos of some of the riders who I was coming up against. It's gone from having guys on a pedestal to now realising they're all human. Lessons have been learned."

Webster said his style of racing has undergone a seachange since moving into seniors ranks and coming up against Australian gold medallist Shane Perkins, who beat him 2-0 in the semifinal yesterday, can only hasten the learning process.

"I ran him close in the first race but in the second one he was easily the better bike rider. He smoked me to be honest. I was on his wheel and I didn't come anywhere apart from off his wheel.

"I know there's a few little things I can work on. If I came away from this with a bronze medal and nothing to work on there'd be no benefit.

"It made me a bit more aware that the way that I rode had a vulnerability. I made sure I covered that vulnerability against Eddie."

Webster had it all over Dawkins, who had handlebar trouble in the kilo time trial and has looked a little out of sorts in Delhi.

"I think it's harder to race someone from your own country," Webster says.

"We had conversations the night before about what we're going to do for our quarterfinal rides and we hadn't even thought about coming up against each other.

"Luckily there was a big break and I could sit down and think about what had happened in Eddie's earlier races."

Webster moves on to the team sprint now and another likely date with the all-powerful Australians. While they beat them at the world champs, Webster acknowledged Australia had arrived in Delhi with some serious form in their legs.

And, in case you're wondering whether making the elite ranks has taken away a bit of the kid in Webster, let's leave with this.

"Today was just a good day. I had fun riding my bike."

- NZ Herald

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