Cycling: Boardman smashes hour record

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The Independent Online
Chris Boardman pushed the world hour record to its outer limits last night when he added another kilometre to an already unbelievable distance at the Manchester Velodrome.

Just over a week since his world 4,000 metres title and world record, Boardman covered 56.375km (35.03 miles) in a noisy hour as the 3,500 capacity crowd screamed him on to yet another major triumph.

"I am enjoying the form of my life," he said before setting out to smash the 55.291km mark set by Switzerland's Tony Rominger in November 1994.

One of the first to embrace the sweating Boardman was Belgium's Eddy Merckx, who set the world hour record 24 years ago in Mexico. Boardman was using a frame built by Merckx, and utilising the "Superman" position devised by Graeme Obree was smoothly into his ride within the first kilometre.

At the five-kilometre mark, he was ahead of Rominger and gradually built a lead of 34 seconds, setting a 56kph pace.

"I was very apprehensive. I thought it would be much closer. My saddle gave me a bit of a problem, and my arms were aching and I had to change my position several times to ease them. This is my personal limit. I do not want to do it again - ever," Boardman said.

"This makes up for a disappointing Tour de France. After that I wanted three things. A world title, the world hour record, and the world time- trial championship." The final leg of his treble is due next month in Lugano. Among his rivals could be Rominger, about whom Boardman said: "What can I say to him about the record, except sorry?"

In an hour's test earlier this week, he found that after 20km he suffered cramp in his arms. "That was because the muscles were supporting me, rather than my skeleton. I made a slight adjustment, but even so it was hard to maintain that position throughout the ride."

His first sign of discomfort came in the 39th kilometre as he got out of the saddle for the first time, and sat up for a few seconds to ease his back.

His performance was highlighted by a series of four- kilometre times which would have won medals at world pursuit championships. With three minutes left, he had beaten Rominger's distance which many thought would remain on the shelf for many years.