Cycling: Bugno's bit of history

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The Independent Online
Gianni Bugno, of Italy, found a niche in cycle-racing history here yesterday as only the fourth professional to defend his world road- race title successfully since the first championship in 1927.

Elsewhere, Robert Millar was preparing to write himself into legal history as the first British professional to take court action over non-selection for a world championship. Because Millar did not want to contest the British road- race championship, he was told that he could not expect selection.

As one of the few British riders capable of lasting the 261 kilometres, and in hilly terrain that is his forte, he would have been a natural choice.

For Millar, exposure is crucial in the most important single-day race on the calendar. It can affect his future, particularly his bargaining power, after a year to forget.

Even his agent, Frank Quinn, admits that the sour Scot is not the most popular soul in professional cycling, but he considers to be 'petty' the action of the professional racing committee of the British Cycling Federation. More so because a medical certificate was submitted after the British road-race championship, showing that Millar had been suffering from tedinitis.

Now Millar, with the backing of his Dutch sponsor, TVM, has taken legal advice, and Quinn says that they will claim loss of earnings and 'lack of visibility'.

TVM will retain Millar next year but they have informed the Federation that his non-selection would affect his future employment.

'He has not signed a contract yet,' Quinn said. 'He was ready to come to Benidorm as late as Friday but I received a message from the committee which said there was no new evidence to change their minds.

'There was no expense involved in having Millar in the team. It was all covered by his sponsors.'

So Britain went into battle with six riders - half a team, in championship terms. Only Brian Smith and Harry Lodge finished, which is not so bad considering that only 90 of the 192 starters completed the course.

The Scotsman Smith was 45th, seven minutes and 24 seconds behind Bugno, who eased out the Frenchman Laurent Jalabert with the Russian Dimitri Konyshev taking the bronze.

The Italian's triumph was his first major success since he first won the title in Stuttgart.

Lodge was 83rd, 16min 30sec in arrears, after six and a half hours' racing in temperatures of more than 33C.

Results, Sport in Short, page 27