His third place in the world time trial championship followed a gold in 1993 and a silver last year, and four months of purgatory.
After displacing two vertebrae in a Tour de France spill, he fell again in the World Cup race at Rochester in August, bruising the base of his spine.
Then two weeks ago he was making a bed at his Wirral home when he cracked a rib stretching over a bed rail.
"It did not affect my performance," said Boardman, who winced his way through a press conference with the new champion, Laurent Jalabert of France, and the Ukrainian silver medallist, Sergei Gontchar. He was 20sec slower than Jalabert, who upset the specialists, and 17sec behind Gontchar.
"My season? Crap would be a good description," Boardman told a radio reporter. Yet in July he had worn the yellow jersey of Tour de France leader - a lifetime ambition for cyclists. "With each setback my morale has gone down. I did not really want to come here, but it is my job. I don't like coming to a major event below form," he said.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (San Sebastian, Sp) Men's 42km time trial: 1 L Jalabert (Fr) 52min 1sec; 2 S Gontchar (Ukr) +3sec; 3 C Boardman (GB) +20.