'I could be first and take back the yellow jersey, or finish 10th,' Boardman said yesterday after finishing the eighth stage at Trelissac safely in the pack, two minutes and 16 seconds adrift of the Danish winner, Bo Hamburger.
'I got over-excited, along with a few thousand Brits, in the first few days because my form was so good. I did not eat enough then because I was concentrating so much on the race. I felt so good that is was easy to become lax.
'I am afraid the damage may have been done. Now I could have to pay the price for that. It depends on who is more tired than me.'
Johan Museeuw of Belgium saw his lead trimmed to five seconds yesterday by the Italian Gianluca Bortolami. Time trialling is not Museeuw's forte, so the yellow jersey looks certain to change hands again today.
Boardman lies 59 seconds behind Sean Yates, who is third overall, 39 behind Miguel Indurain and nine behind Tony Rominger. Boardman won the prologue time trial in Lille by riding at an average speed of 55kph, a Tour prologue record, and kept the yellow jersey for three days. However, today's time trial offers a much stiffer task with the Tour's heavyweight contenders, Indurain and Rominger, likely to make significant challenges.
Boardman said: 'I know the course from our team's training camp in the area, but 10 days into the Tour this time trial is going to be totally different to the prologue.'
As the Tour has moved south, so the temperature has risen considerably, though Boardman is well prepared for the conditions. During a hot spell at his Wirral home he trained wearing several layers of clothing to simulate the heat of the Dordogne.
He is almost certain to be back on the Lotus bike of Olympic and yellow-jersey fame. 'It is designed as a road machine rather than for time trials, believe it or not. It is comfortable and handles well for the descents, and for those reasons I will probably use it.'
Yesterday the men with their eyes on the clock held back as four men broke away. Hamburger was the only one of his co-leaders with the strength to chase the Colombian, Angel Camargo, when he charged away, and the Dane's stronger finish gave him the stage.
The breakaway gave the hard- nosed sprinters a day off from their sparring, but it did not end as Luc Leblanc, a yellow-jersey bearer in 1991, intended. When the foursome unhitched themselves from the pack 110 kilometres into the 218 from Poitiers, Leblanc was hunting glory on his local ground. He worked hard during their 108-kilometre escapade but could finish only fourth behind the German, Rolf Aldag.
Leblanc will receive sympathy from his near-neighbour, Raymond Poulidor, a legendary Tour figure who never wore the yellow jersey. After Leblanc won his jersey he wanted to take another so that he could give one to Poulidor.
One day in a yellow jersey satisfied Sean Yates even if it ended in 'court' with Rolf Sorensen appealing against penalties imposed because he repeatedly pulled Yates' jersey in an intermediate sprint on Saturday.
At the time Sorensen's teammate, Museeuw, was sprinting into the leader's colours by winning the sprint and a time deduction. 'That's what sprinting is all about. Our protest would not alter anything. It was just the principle,' Yates said.
The Dane, however, was concerned with his professional image, never mind the 20 seconds penalty and 500 Swiss francs fine. 'Yates pulled me first,' he claimed, explaining that the friction between his GB MG team and Yates' Motorola men came from an incident on another stage when Museeuw nearly fell.
TOUR DE FRANCE RESULTS
EIGHTH STAGE (135-mile, Poitiers to Trelissac): 1 B Hamburger (Den) TVM 5hr 9min 27sec; 2 A Camargo (Col) Kelme +1sec; 3 R Aldag (Ger) Telekom 5; 4 L Leblanc (Fr) Festina s/t; 5 E Magnien (Fr) Castorama +2:16; 6 J Svorada (Slovak) Lampre; 7 D Abdoujaparov (Uzb) Polti; 8 S Martinello (It) Mercatone Uno; 9 N Minali (It) Gewiss Ballan; 10 G Bortolami (It) Mapei Clas; 11 F Simon (Fr) Castorama; 12 A Tchmil (Mol), Lotto; 13 B Thibout (Fr) Castorama; 14 C Capelle (Fr) GAN; 15 H Redant (Bel) ZG Mobili; 16 C Zamana (Pol) Kelme; 17 C Chiappucci (It) Carrera; 18 G Bugno (It) Polti; 19 G Theunisse (Neth) TVM; 20 M Indurain (Sp) Banesto all s/t. Selected: 41 S Yates (GB) Motorola +2:16. 77 C Boardman (GB) GAN s/t.
Leading overall standings: 1 J Museeuw (Bel) GB MG 39hr 52min 45sec; 2 G Bortolami (It) Mapei Clas +5sec; 3 S Yates (GB) Motorola 10; 4 F Andreu (US) Motorola +13; 5 F Vanzella (It) GB MG +14; 6 D Abdoujaparov (Uzbek) Polti +23; 7 M Indurain (Sp) Banesto +30; 8 L Armstrong (US) Motorola +42; 9 A de las Cuevas (Fr) Castorama +48; 10 T Rominger (Swit) Mapei Clas 58; 11 T Davy (Fr) Castorama +59; 12 M Mauri (Sp) Banesto +1min 1sec; 13 R Aldag (Ger) Telekom s/t; 14 L Leblanc (Fr) Festina +1:03; 15 P Anderson (Aus) Motorola +1:04; 16 F Vona (It) GB MG +1:07; 17 C Boardman (GB) GAN +1:09; 18 A Olano (Sp) M Clas +1:16; 19 B Hamburger (Den) TVM +1:22; 20 P Ugrumov (Lat) Gewiss Ballan 1:34.
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