Cycling: Battling Boardman returns to form
"I was prepared to do it if they wanted me, but obviously they do not," he said after world pursuit champion Graeme Obree's performance in the last World Cup pursuit signalled something was wrong.
"He was 15 seconds slower than the best, and that is a serious chunk of power. The British Cycling Federation are going to let Graeme ride regardless of form, and hope for a miracle. Knowing Graeme, there may be one. It would have meant a hell of a shift around if they had taken up my offer. It was not ideal, but I was prepared to do it, and I reckon that I would have had a damn good chance of winning."
Although he is the Olympic champion, Boardman was content to let Obree represent Britain in the 4,000m event on the Stone Mountain Park track on 24 July. Boardman's target is the inaugural road time-trial on 3 August, which gives him time to recuperate from slogging 3,900km through France.
His patriotic gesture gained momentum when Boardman heard the results of tests to discover the reason for his own loss of power - an intestinal infection is impeding his intake of carbohydrates. "It takes time to get better, but at least I now know what was wrong," he said. "It has shown me why I was OK for the opening time-trial, but then went downhill quickly.
"My form is not super, but now I have become more stable with each day. I am not suffering like I was. It is difficult to suffer each day for 21 days. Now things have stabilised I am confident about reaching Paris," he said. His black day came on the road out of Turin six days ago. "I was in big trouble on a climb," Boardman said, although he only lost just over a minute.
He and 144 others are bracing themselves for a severe test when Miguel Indurain decides to unleash himself. "The race will explode on the climb to Hautacam tomorrow," Boardman said. "Half-minutes and minutes will be lost, but the only day that Indurain can do massive damage is on Wednesday's stage to Pamplona. That is the only real hard day remaining."
Although Indurain is the shy and retiring type, even he can savour the theatrics of such a performance on his homecoming day. Yesterday, however, he had to chase for 55km to wipe out a lead of almost a minute after he and the injured Swiss contender Tony Rominger were left behind by the rest of their rivals. After that, the battle for the yellow jersey mellowed under the hot sun in the verdant Auvergne, and allowed those with energy, ambition and no chance of toppling Bjarne Riis.
The stage to the lace-making town of Tulle fell to Djamolidine Abdoujaparov. In the early 1990s he was the terror of the sprinters, but his potent finish waned. Yesterday, he was back on the podium after breaking clear in the last two kilometres to win by seven seconds from Italy's Mirco Gualdi.
Riis and his entourage arrived four minutes and 53 seconds later, unmoved by the day's events. He is still 56sec clear of the world champion Abraham Olano, of Spain, and the countdown to the Paris finale stands at seven days.
TOUR DE FRANCE 14th stage (Besse to Tulle, 186km) Leading placings: 1 D Abdoujaparov (Uzbek) Refin 4hr 6min 29sec; 2 M Gualdi (It) Polti +7sec; 3 L Madouas (Fr) Motorola +9sec; 4 D Rous (Fr) GAN +16; 5 B Hamburger (Den) TVM +31; 6 T Bourguignon (Fr) Aubervilliers +3min 56sec. Selected: 45 C Boardman (GB) GAN +4:59. Leading overall standings: 1 B Riis (Den) Deutsche Telekom 65hr 11min 40sec; 2 A Olano (Sp) Mapei +56sec; 3 Y Berzin (Rus) Gewiss +1:08 4 Tony Rominger (Swit) Mapei +1:21; 5 J Ullrich (Ger) Deutsche Telekom +2:06; 6 P Luttenberger (Aut) Carrera +2:38. Selected: 31 Boardman +33:20.
Latest in Sport
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
McDowell did brilliantly to land the World Match Play title in Bulgaria last week, but it’s a format...
by Gareth Purnell
23 May 2013 09:13 AM
David Moyes delighted after Rio Ferdinand agrees to stay at Manchester United with new one-year contract
Sergio Garcia / Tiger Woods 'fried chicken' racism row takes fresh twist after 'coloured athletes' comment
After racist remark, Sergio Garcia fights for reputation as Tiger Woods slams 'hurtful' fried chicken joke
Manuel Pellegrini must deliver five trophies in five years at Manchester City says chief executive Ferran Soriano
Major refinancing sees Manchester United slash interest bill by £10m a year
- 1 Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
- 2 'He was always smiling': Lee Rigby named as Woolwich victim
- 3 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Two bailed after arrest over Woolwich attack Twitter comments
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.