Cycling: Manning shows his true potential

News of Paul Manning's victory in the four-day Tour of Lancashire was flashed to Chris Boardman in France yesterday, signalling that another rider from the Wirral racing "stable" was on track for a promising career.

Less than an hour after a drenched Manning finished the final day with his lead of 28 seconds still intact, Roger Legeay, the manager of Boardman's GAN team, heard on his mobile that the lanky Midlander was living up to the world champion's prediction of future fame.

Peter Woodworth, Boardman's business partner and the man behind Manning's Adidas-Sci-Con team, was quick to let Legeay know that there was more talent in the pipeline.

"Paul should follow the same route as Chris Newton," Woodworth said. "Our contacts with GAN helped to get Newton set up in France." Newton won the Tour of Lancashire, Britain's premier stage race, last year and is now winning races in France.

Yvonne McGregor, the world No 2 from the Adidas team, won the Tour of Navarre in Spain recently to boost the stock of the Boardman-Woodworth set-up further.

Manning, 22, riding a bike originally intended for Boardman, finished 2min 4sec behind yesterday's stage winner, Joe Bayfield, but without any worries as Bayfield, with an aggregate deficit of more than six minutes, could not threaten his victory.

Most of the worries landed with the organisers as torrential rain flooded part of the course, calling for a change of route during the race, and a reduction in the mileage from 82 to 70.

Rain putting paid to the photo-finish camera hardly mattered. Bayfield came home 53 seconds clear of the Welshman Matt Beckett, with riders still straggling in 27 minutes later.

TOUR OF LANCASHIRE Fifth stage (Manchester-Manchester loop, 70miles): 1 J Bayfield (Controlware) 2:46:14; 2 M Beckett (Wal) +53sec; 3 P West (Adidas-Sci-Con) +2min 4sec; 4 A Naylor (Ambrosia); 5 P Wilkes (Giant R T); 6 C Walker (Team Invader) all same time. Final overall positions (after five stages and 221 miles): 1 P Manning (Adidas-Sci-Con) 8:05:12; 2 K Dawson (Castelli) +28sec; 3 S Bray (Giant R T) +35sec; 4 West +42sec; 5 M Stephens (North Wirral-Kodak) +49; 6 B Fleming (Cannons S C) +1:32. Science in Sport points: Walker. Alexa King of the Mountains: W Randle (Castelli). CRS Retail sprints: Fleming.