Cycling: Obree's world record: Boardman beaten by Scot

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GRAEME OBREE, of Scotland, smashed a world record, beat an Olympic champion, and set himself up for a world title in less than five minutes at the World Track Championships on a tiny wooden track here yesterday, writes Robin Nicholl in Hamar, Norway.

The man whose racing style and 'bitsa' bike brought smiles to the faces of cycling experts when he first appeared at world level, wiped the smirks from the same faces for the second time in less than two months.

He recorded 4min 22.668sec to beat the Barcelona golden boy, Chris Boardman, by more than two seconds in their semi- final ride on the 250m track, and clipped six-tenths of a second from the world 4,000m pursuit record set earlier in the day by Philippe Ermenault of France.

Tonight Obree faces Ermenault in the final on the track where last month he set a world one-hour record, only to lose it six days later to Boardman. Obree is one ride from taking a title that Britain has won only once when 35 years ago the Liverpudlian, Norman Sheil, was the fastest in Paris.

Obree, whose racing position has his chest resting on the handlebars with his elbows stuck out like wings and his behind hardly on the saddle, has gone from an item of curiousity to a man respected by world cycling.

'He is really awesome. I have enormous respect for him,' Boardman said. As the fastest loser Boardman takes the bronze medal. 'This is a bonus. I have done better than I expected. .'

Ermenault beat British professional Shaun Wallace in the other semi-final.