Cycle firm may sue Boardman

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A SMALL Lancashire cycle firm may take legal action over Chris Boardman's gold medal ride in the Olympic Games, write Andrew Rosthorn and John Murray.

The Ribble Cycle Company of Preston claims he should not have ridden the LotusSport wonderbike in the Games as he was under contract to ride a Ribble bike. Simon Holt, Ribble's solicitor, said Boardman, 23, had accepted a payment of pounds 10,000 from the firm.

In the contract, according to Mr Holt, Boardman promised to ride only Ribble bikes in competition, for pleasure, for cycling pictures, and in the Olympics. But when Lotus offered two carbon- fibre LotusSport bikes for the British Cycling Federation (BCF) to use in the Games, Boardman was chosen to ride a Lotus, instead of the steel-framed Ribble.

Jim Hendry, chief executive of the BCF, said: 'Ever since Chris Boardman joined our national squad, we have had an agreement signed annually. Part of that agreement concerns the equipment used when he is riding for Great Britain. It overrides any other agreement.'

The founder and managing director of Ribble, Terry Dove, said: 'Our little firm had paid what we think is a king's ransom for him to ride our bikes in 1992. We had faith that he would come home from Barcelona with a gold medal round a Ribble bike.'

A spokesman for Lotus, Patrick Peal, denied that his firm had supplied the bike to Boardman for the Olympics. 'We supplied the bike to the BCF. They chose who should ride it.'

The BCF said that cyclists agree when joining the national squad that they will ride whatever bikes the BCF chooses for each event. Mr Hendry said the BCF had a contract with Ribble for one event. All cyclists in that event had honoured it, whatever their personal agreements.