Cycling: Boardman ready to take on the world

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The Independent Online
CHRIS BOARDMAN, who has not ridden competitively since crashing out of the Tour de France, will go into today's World Track Championships in Bordeaux bolstered by a new extended contract with French team Credit Agricole.

The 30-year-old has been with the team, formerly known as GAN, since turning professional in 1993 and has agreed a two-year extension to his current deal to take him through to 2000.

Boardman, the holder of the world one-hour record, will contest the pursuit title in Bordeaux. He won the pursuit at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and was world professional champion in 1994 and 1996.

France are defending six titles this week, and the first to be tested will be Philippe Ermenault, who takes on Boardman.

Shane Kelly hopes to use the championship to rally the troubled Australian team with a record-equalling fourth successive kilometre time trial triumphs. Victory in the opening final of the 13-event programme would put him alongside the German Lothar Thoms, who achieved the feat 17 years ago.

Australia's preparations have been undermined by allegations of taxpayers' money being spent on a product called colostrum to boost riders' immunity to illness. The team has also been riven by accusations of sexual harassment and outbreaks of dissent among riders.

An anonymous letter was circulated to the Australian media accusing their head coach, Charlie Walsh, of buying a human growth hormone and selling Australia's track programme to the United States Cycling Federation. His training methods were also questioned, and allegations of sexual harassment made against a member of his staff in a complaint to the Australian Sports Commission.

It was claimed that colostrum contained a human growth hormone, IGF-1, but the team doctor, Peter Barnes, said it was a dairy product, naturally occurring in food. He said the hormone was only illegal if it was extracted and injected into the bloodstream.

The squad were further unsettled when three riders were ordered to return to Australia's training camp in Germany after first being allowed to train in the United States.