Cycling: Kelly lets his golden chance slip

OLYMPIC GAMES
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The Independent Online
Graeme Obree has departed the Olympics but his influence rides on. The "Superman" style he devised has already helped Italy's Andrea Collinelli to a gold medal and yesterday Antonella Bellutti brought them closer to a golden double. Using Obree's flat-out position, she set a world 3,000m record in April and on the Stone Mountain Park track she has ridden herself towards a pursuit medal, twice setting Olympic records.

With a below-par world champion Obree eliminated and Britain's team pursuiters suffering a similar fate, Yvonne McGregor was the Britain's last track hope in the rain-delayed pursuit semi-finals. But if British morale was low, they could at least take some consolation from America's million-dollar failure.

Over $1m was pumped into Project 96 to develop a superbike. It was intended to reverse the Americans' poor run of results, but so far they have only one silver medal from an event they expected to rule.

Made of razor-thin carbon fibre, the monocoque frame did away with traditional parts such as a seat pillar and crossbar, and the superbike weighed in at 16lbs, ready to take on the world. However, no one appeared to have informed the Russians, who raced on heavier bikes and qualified fastest with an Olympic record in the team pursuit as the USA went out.

Rebecca Twigg, six times world champion, ditched her superbike for a conventional machine but still missed out on the medals. "We were better prepared physiologically and technologically than anyone," said former world pursuit champion Mike McCarthy. "Project 96 was a golden egg for us. We had set such goals for ourselves that it was an all or nothing situation."

Another for whom Olympic failure was painful was Australian Shane Kelly. At the start of the 1,000m time-trial he was two minutes away from adding Olympic gold to his world title.Then his foot slipped off the pedal and four years' work was wasted.

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