Cycling: Obree breaks through

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GRAEME OBREE has shot from obscurity to world cycling fame. In winning the world 4,000 metres pursuit title here yesterday, the Scot broke the world record for the second time in the space of 24 hours.

Obree beat the Frenchman Philippe Ermenault by nearly two seconds as he broke his own day-old 4,000m record with 4min 20.894sec, an improvement of nearly two seconds. It was Emmernault's record which he had bettered on Wednesday and the Norwegians, getting their first sight of world-class cycling, appreciated every second of his performance.

'I think I am close to my limit,' Obree said after his triumph. 'I was fighting for the rainbow jersey of a world champion and that always makes you go faster. I enjoyed winning the title more than breaking the record but my next ambition is to regain the world one-hour record.'

It was his first world record, more than a month ago, that brought Obree recognition as he wiped out a mark that had stood for nine years to the Italian idol, Francesco Moser. Six days later, however, Chris Boardman, who took the bronze medal last night, sent the record even higher with more than 52 kilometres in sweltering conditions on an indoor track at Bordeaux.

Obree, who has taken cycling by storm with his flat-out riding style, which looks awkward and unsafe to the purist, has now proved that he is more valuable as a world-class rider than as a curiosity among bike experts.

'I copied my crouching style after watching road racers descend a mountain road,' he said. 'They crouch low across the handlebars to reduce wind resistance, but they don't pedal. The only difference is that I keep pedalling.' Results, Sporting Digest, page 31