Cycling: Obree back in the saddle

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Three months after retiring from competitive cycling, the twice world champion Graeme Obree is heading for Australia and the World Track Championships, writes Robin Nicholl.

The Scot has been persuaded to race again after quitting the sport he rocked in 1993 by setting a world hour record on a home-made bike.

"My retirement was genuine," Obree said. "I was told that I should not have retired so soon, and when the World Championships were mentioned I was keen.

"I actually stopped in May, and I did nothing until 15 July when I was persuaded to start training again. My form came back so quickly I was surprised. I am getting stronger week by week."

Obree gained his title reputation in the individual world 4,000 metres pursuit championships of 1993 and 1995, but at the 27-31 August championships he is named for the team pursuit, contested by groups of four.

A virus wrecked his 1996 season. He failed to qualify at the Atlanta Olympics. Later Obree withdrew from the defence of his world title at Manchester, three years after taking the sport by storm.

His influence on bike design had the Union Cycliste Internationale, the sport's governing body, rewriting technical regulations as riders adopted his ideas to win Olympic and world golds. Twice his innovations were outlawed in the UCI's quest to get back to basics.

Yvonne McGregor, like Obree a former world hour record holder, goes for the women's 3,000 metres pursuit with high hopes of success after her recent World Cup victory over Antonella Bellutti, Italy's Olympic champion.

GREAT BRITAIN (World Track Championships, Perth, W Australia, 27-31 August) Men: 4,000m pursuit R Hayles; 4,000m team pursuit B Steel, J Clay, M Illingworth, G Obree, Hayles; Madison Steel, Clay; Kilometre time trial C Maclean; Keirin P Jacques; Olympic sprint C Hoy, C Percival, and MacLean. Women: Sprint and 500 metre time trial W Everson; 3,000m pursuit Y McGregor; Points race S Boyden.