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Chris Boardman started favourite for the Grand Prix des Nations and finished fourth, disappointed, but admitting that he had half expected defeat in a race that is rated as the pinnacle of time trials, writes Robin Nicholl from Lac de Madine, France. 'Boardman is the man to beat,' proclaimed French sport headlines, and Armand de las Uevas obliged by more than two and a half minutes in the 62km test on an undulating circuit near Metz. After the first 11km, the Olympic pursuit champion, trying for a fourth success in his first five professional outings, was 44 seconds off the Frenchman's pace. 'I knew my form was nowhere as good as it could be,' Boardman said. 'When you get a kicking like this there is nothing you can do. I always knew that the time would come when I would meet the best when they really wanted to win.' Graeme Obree, who beat Boardman to the world pursuit title, had cramp for the last 10km and finished 15th. It was the final event of the World Cup series, which was won by Italy's Maurizio Fondriest.