Cycling: Obree to turn pro after split with manager: Former record-holder chooses to keep the wheeling and dealing in the family

GRAEME OBREE has walked away from pounds 180,000 in prospective deals by parting with his friend and manager, Vic Haines, less than a month after breaking the world one-hour record.

Haines, a Southend businessman, had the deals in the offing when Obree announced a parting of the ways last weekend. 'He was a friend who needed help,' Haines said. 'He had no money, and we have achieved a lot. Everyone in cycling knows what I have done for him.

'It was a very personal relationship, and what has happened is out of character. I feel that he has done the dirty on me. The money was neither here nor there, but now that is the only way. He will have to pay.

'I am not being vindictive, but he needs a lesson. However, I am not considering legal action at this time. Graeme said he was doing something about the finance. I had pounds 180,000 worth of deals on the table, but now it seems he wants to keep his business within his family.'

The Scot - who broke the world hour record, held for nine years by the Italian, Francesco Moser, in Hamar, Norway on 17 July - is racing in Denmark after announcing that he would soon turn professional. 'I have a couple of sponsors lined up,' he said. 'They came to me, and they are very interested. Once everything is finalised, I am turning professional.'

Because of this he 'felt things had to move on', but added that he was prepared to reimburse Haines for 'fair and reasonable out-of-pocket expenses'. Haines claimed they had a verbal agreement that once Obree's cycling became profitable he would receive 10 per cent plus expenses.

Obree's record distance for the hour, 51.596 kilometres, lasted only six days once the Olympic champion, Chris Boardman, got going. Now the 52.270km of Boardman will be under fire from Obree on the indoor track in Stuttgart, possibly on 10 September, the day before his 28th birthday.

'If he gets there he will break the record,' Haines said. 'What shape is he going to be in, though, if I am pressing for money?'

Haines has bought the bike built by Mike Burrows on which Obree initially made his abortive record attempt. This leaves the Scot with the home-made bike on which he captured the world record 24 hours after failing.

'The Burrows bike looked good, and it felt smooth, but it did not respond like my own,' Obree said. 'I had tired legs when I made the second attempt, so I know that I should be able to take Boardman's figures higher.'

Before that attempt Obree will contest his first world championships on the same Hamar track where he set his record. There he, Boardman and the American-based professional Shaun Wallace compete for the 4,000 metres pursuit title in the first 'open' world championships.

His bike, with its narrower than normal bottom bracket and rear wheel hub, could pose problems. 'We are going with fingers and toes crossed,' the British team manager, Doug Dailey, said. 'Normal equipment will not fit. I have told Obree of my fears. It would be a great embarrassment for him and everyone if he stripped a wheel sprocket.

'Obree is his own mechanic, and very handy with tools. It is better, however, not to have such distractions at world championships.'

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