The world champion New Zealand cycling sprint team are racing towards a common goal, but have taken different approaches for their challenge ahead.

Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell and Eddie Dawkins are targeting gold at next year's world championships and Commonwealth Games, following a winter where they split up to take on their own adventures.

Webster, 26, spent three months participating in the Japanese keirin, a fascinating cycling sub-culture where sprinters are clad in bright colours and race on outdoor tracks, in all conditions.

"I was given the blessing from [coach] Anthony [Peden] and the guys were very supportive of me going," said Webster, who likened the keirin event to being a horse racing jockey. "There's a lot of gambling on the races - that's the main reason the keirin exists.


"At every race, we have to hand over our phone, our laptop, our technology, so we have no contact with the outside world.

"[The racing] is very eye-opening and something I've taken lots of aspects from and tried to bring back here into how I operate," said Webster.

Dawkins went to Pennsylvania, where he earned good results, while Mitchell based himself in Europe, earning podium places in Grand Prix races, and participating in a training camp in Italy.

Now, the band is back together in training, and the hard work begins.

The World Cup season starts in the first week of November in Poland, before the team sprint makes their return at the Oceania Championships in Cambridge later that month.

Mitchell, who highlights Germany, Great Britain, France and the Netherlands as their main rivals, believes the team can peak at the right time to win gold at the world champs in February and the Commonwealth Games in April.

"It shouldn't be too much of an issue to hold form through that period providing that we balance out our training well and really hunker down now and get all our base work in," said Mitchell.

Webster agrees.

"The base work now is what's going to give us the foundation to be able to get it to work, but if we make some wrong steps, if we don't do the key factors now, it then becomes very hard to keep that condition.

"Now's the hard work time."