Cycling: Mission for Boardman

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AFTER hitting a golden peak in Barcelona, Chris Boardman has now come down to earth to prove a point. Was it the man or was it the sleek Lotus superbike that made British cycling's Olympic day?

From the headiness of Games glory, British cycling's first gold medal winner for 72 years arrived at the British track championships here to defend his 4,000 metres pursuit title yesterday. That, however, was not the Hoylake man's only mission.

'It was not difficult to gee myself up for the championship,' Boardman said. 'Everything is on the line. People, and some ill-formed media, are saying that it was the bike that won. I am out to prove them wrong.'

The track record stands at 4min 38.5sec, set by Boardman himself at Saffron Lane's banked wooden track, where in the same week he established a world record over 5,000 metres.

He could hardly contain himself in his first outing on a conventional bike at Leicester, and although scheduled to qualify with 4min 45sec, Boardman finished three and a half seconds faster in the time trial round.

Yesterday, in the match to find the semi-finalists, Boardman caught his opponent, Andrew Forbes of Bristol, with three of the 12 laps remaining.

His time of 4min 45.23sec ensured that he did not draw any serious rivals for the next ride today. Fastest is matched against slowest in track pursuiting, so Boardman meets Adrian Allen, of Cambridge, as the pursuit to silence the sceptics gathers speed.

Boardman has not forsaken the lauded Lotus machinery to help drive home his point. A contractual agreement has put him back on a normal track bike.

He will be back in the Lotus position next Saturday in a bid to recapture his world record which he lost to American Kent Bostick less than two months after setting it.