For Tom Scully, cycling used to mean chasing older brother Jake around on his pride and joy - a bright orange, steel-framed Rossin with down-tube shifters.

Cycling is a bit more complicated now after he won two gold medals as a 19-year-old at a World Cup meeting at Melbourne last week.

His bike has changed a bit, too. Scully's bike now costs about the same as a decent car. "Frame and forks are a good $5000, then you have to put cranks on it and then you have your wheels. If you're riding disc wheels you're looking at $2000 to $2500 each. You're looking at close to $10,000 for the full set-up."

The spirit, however, that carried him around on the Rossin as a kid growing up in Wyndham and Cromwell remains the same.

"My older brother and his friend started getting into age-group riding in the weekends, under-15 and -17 stuff. I'd jump in the car and come along for the trips to Invercargill.

"I'd follow them around, watch the races and jump in the car and go home again. I always had it in my mind that I would join the racing as soon as I was old enough."

In that respect Scully was lucky he grew up in the south. Despite the Foveaux Strait producing crosswinds that could topple a goods train, Invercargill is a cyclist's paradise.

The Tour of Southland is the country's top multi-day stage race and the city is home to New Zealand's only indoor velodrome, a facility that is, according to Scully, "as fast as any track in the world".

From Invercargill to the farming community of Wyndham, then to Cromwell before returning to Invercargill for the last two years of his school days, Scully's roots are firmly planted in the south. "I remember being at school and being let out to watch the tour go by, all the schools lined the roads, so cycling has always been part of life down here."

Scully's talent on the road was evident from a young age, but still there was nothing that necessarily pointed to such immediate, startling success on the boards. Not unless you were part of the increasingly acclaimed high-performance programme at BikeNZ.

"We've always known he has massive potential," said performance director Mark Elliott. "Some of the steps he's taken in the past six months, where he has been part of our programme in Europe and the US, were pivotal in his success at Melbourne."

Scully's triumph in the scratch race, which can be a lottery if raced poorly, excited Elliott not so much for the gold medal but by the way he won it. "It was such a tactically astute race."

Scully can recall the race as if it happened an hour ago. Italian rider Alex Buttazzoni gained a lap early and Scully knew he needed to be part of the next group that stole a lap.

He duly hooked on to that group and when the lead lap riders topped out at seven, he concentrated on his bunch position.

"I dropped in at fourth wheel ... drifted off a bit so I could have a run at them and slingshot past, then with a lap and a half to go I just gritted my teeth and went for it. I knew it would take me half a lap to get past, which left one lap of full-gas sprinting."

Scully allowed himself a little look on the finishing straight and knew he only had to stay upright to win. Staying upright, according to Elliott, is something Scully has a natural gift for.

"He's a beautiful bike handler," he said. "He's racing and his head is all over the shop but you watch his bike and it is as straight as a die."

If that wasn't enough, a madison victory followed with Olympic bronze medallist Marc Ryan. It was the first time he had ridden competitively with Ryan.

There are plenty of races to come between now and next October, but Scully admits to having half an eye on the Commonwealth Games, where the scratch race is an event (the madison is raced in the Olympics but not the Commonwealths, whereas the scratch is not raced at the Olympics).

The track programme is unashamedly based around the pursuit programme, with talented racers like Jesse Sergent, Ryan, Westley Gough, Hayden Roulston, Peter Latham and Sam Bewley to the fore, but Elliott said Scully would be putting pressure on them for places.

"With my success last weekend, I'd like to think I've put my hand up and am tracking in the right direction."

For the moment, he's interested only in tracking up to Cromwell, to his parents Matthew and Wendy's place. For one thing, he might need to dry out for a few days.

It has been a vintage spring for Southland's publicans. The taps have barely been turned off following their shock Ranfurly Shield win and Scully and his mates have made sure they have had their quota, too, since he returned from Australia.