Cycling: Man and that bike set record: Robin Nicholl on the latest rousing ride of the Olympic champion Chris Boardman on Leicester's boards

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The Independent Online
IN THE time it takes to boil an egg, Chris Boardman cracked two world records to fan the euphoria of his Olympic gold and the heat of discussion surrounding the bike that carried him to the four-kilometre pursuit title in Barcelona.

Reunited with the Lotus superbike at Leicester's wooden track on Saturday, Boardman covered 15 laps in 5min 38.083sec to hack nearly eight seconds from the world 5km amateur record and make the professional version look pale by more than six seconds.

It was certainly faster than the progress of his coach, Peter Keen, who, stuck in motorway chaos, missed the record ride. Faced with worsening weather prospects, Boardman brought forward his attempt by two hours and squeezed it in before rain made the banked track too slippery for racing.

He reclaimed the amateur mark that he established a year ago at Leicester, but has only the comfort of beating the professional best set by Gregor Braun, who won the Olympic pursuit title for Germany in Montreal in 1976.

Braun set his professional record at La Paz in 1986, while the American Kent Bostick lowered Boardman's original best at Colorado Springs. Both tracks are at altitude, which underlines Boardman's ability rather than the design of the superbike.

'The bike goes nowhere without the man,' a Lotus technician had insisted when the ill-informed insisted that the bike won the Olympic title. A week ago, Boardman defended his British pursuit title on a conventional bike at Leicester, but failed to beat his British best and silence the doubters.

Now cycling takes second place for a while. Always business-like in his racing, Boardman needs the same cool and decisive approach to handle his fast-engulfing acclaim. After a topsy-turvy three weeks at his Hoylake home that left him happily announcing 'I have so much to sort out', Boardman has fled to the Lake District for a holiday with his family.

There, in relative calm, he can reshape his future. Already, he has followed the Carl Lewis line and hired a portable telephone. To help his postal replies, the British Cycling Federation is having special headed notepaper printed for British cycling's first Olympic champion for 72 years.

Elsewhere, Spencer Wingrave is rejigging his cycling future after failing to make the Barcelona trip, and he may have found a short-cut to professional gold. He has been told by Patrick Sercu, the main agent for the lucrative indoor six- day races, that he should have no trouble in gaining contracts for the winter season.

'I said I wanted to ride about seven and Sercu said that there would be no problem,' Wingrave said. 'As I have no sponsor I am relying on the 'sixes' to make some money.' Normally, a rider has to be accepted by other professionals, but Wingrave's ability - based on 30 amateur six-day races - has been accepted by Sercu, who has an impressive record in this form of racing.

'It is annoying not to have gone to the Olympics and it is something that I always will be angry about,' Wingrave said. On hearing of his non-selection, the Kent racer turned professional and now waits to show his worth in the World Professional Track Championships, which start in Valencia next weekend.

In 1980, Tony Doyle returned from Moscow frustrated at being passed over by Britain in the Olympic 4,000 metres pursuit. Within weeks, he had turned professional and won the first of his two world pursuit titles, which led to profitable winters on the six-day tracks.

(Photograph omitted)

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