Cycling / Tour de France: Boardman sets sights on time trial: Olympic champion ponders point at which he should pull out as he and Yates make up ground

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AS THE dust settled over southern England, the Tour de France sailed for Cherbourg with Chris Boardman talking about winning a future Tour.

For now there are ambitions enough for the Brit who has taken the Tour by storm. Monday's time trial at Bergerac is next, and three weeks after the Tour ends, a quest for two world titles looms.

'It's looking more feasible to consider winning this race,' was his parting shot. 'That is what I am starting to think now. I have not found it difficult to ride at the front of the biggest bike race in the world.'

So Boardman and Sean Yates returned to France better placed than when they arrived via the Tunnel. Yates departed holding seventh overall, 38sec behind Italian leader, Flavio Vanzella.

'Sean and I would have loved to have won in England but there is no quarter given,' Boardman said. In two days, riding in front of thousands of home fans, Boardman has moved from 20th to 14th overall and yesterday's 187-kilometre loop out and back to Portsmouth brought a minor shake-up among the challengers.

Boardman and Yates were tucked in the main field of 147 as the sprinters charged for the promenade finish at Southsea where Italy's Nicola Minali put the likes of the mighty Djamolidine Abdoujaparov in their places.

The German Olaf Ludwig was second again, beaten by Minali, who burst on to the scene earlier this year with a victory against the best sprinters in a Belgian race. Abdoujaparov was fifth despite the efforts of his Polti team to set the stage for the Uzbekistani, after a race-long breakaway of four died in the final 11km.

After his stunning show, Boardman is taking it easy to prepare for the time trial, but does not want to stay the course until Paris.

His sights are on Sicily and the world 4,000 metres championship (he is already the Olympic champion) and the new time trial title. He is planning to acclimatise for Sicily in Lyon where the high temperatures should be comparable with those of Palermo.

'It would be a very big compromise and there would have to be a big reason for me to go all the way to Paris. As soon as I start to get really smashed then I will stop riding the Tour. It would be interesting, however, to ride in the Pyrenees.

'Everything is coming together, and the last ingredient for this aim is the mountains. Endurance may take a time to come. Currently I am recovering from day to day, but I have felt more comfortable riding in this race than any other this year.'

His manager, Roger Legeay, agrees. 'This year we cannot dream of Paris, but in two or three years it will be good,' he said.

Boardman knows his destination, but the next visit of the Tour is uncertain despite a second day of crowds comparable to those seen on French roads.

'I cannot say when the Tour will return,' Jean-Marie Leblanc, the Tour director, said. 'We try to go to two countries each time but not more because the French people would not be happy. It is a French race after all.

'I don't think the interest that I have seen on the roads of England will disappear. I just hope that all that has happened motivates sponsors towards British cycling.'

Certainly if anyone wants the Tour back they can count on an outlay in equipment and services, and cash, of pounds 1m a day.

TOUR DE FRANCE Fifth stage, 187-km around Portsmouth: 1 N Minali (It) Gewiss Ballan 4hr 10min 49sec; 2 O Ludwig (Ger) Telekom; 3 S Martinello (It) Mercatone Uno; 4 J Svorada (Slovak) Lampre; 5 D Abdoujaparov (Uzbek) Polti; 6 J-P van Poppel (Neth) Festina; 7 J Capiot (Bel) TVM; 8 J Kirsipuu (Estonia) Chazal; 9 G Bortolami (It) Mapei Clas; 10 C Capelle (France) GAN; 11 M Sergeant (Bel) Histor; 12 A Edo (Sp) Kelme; 13 A Tchmil (Mol) Lotto; 14 M de Clercq (Bel) Lotto; 15 T Gouvenou (Fr) GAN; 16 J Museeuw (Bel) GB MG; 17 B Thibout (Fr) Castorama; 18 F Fontanelli (It) ZG Mobili; 19 E Magnien (Fr) Castorama; 20 U Raab (Ger) Telekom. Selected: 34 S Yates (GB) Motorola; 37 C Boardman (GB) GAN; 38 M Indurain (Sp) Banesto; 58 C Chiappucci (It) Carrera; 59 T Rominger (Swit) Mapei Clas; 118 G Bugno (It) Polti, all same time.

Leading overall standings: 1 F Vanzella (It) GB MG 21hr 45min 55sec; 2 J Museeuw (Bel) GB MG at 4sec; 3 Indurain at 14; 4 L Armstrong (US) Motorola 26; 5 A de las Cuevas (Fr) Castorama 32; 6 T Marie (Fr) Castorama 37; 7 S Yates (GB) Motorola 38; 8 Rominger 42; 9 F Andreu (US) Motorola 43; 10 T Davy (Fr) Castorama same time; 11 M Mauri (Sp) Banesto 45; 12 F Vona (It) GB MG 51; 13 M Alonso (Sp) Banesto 53; 14 Boardman s/t; 15 P Anderson (Aus) Motorola 54; 16 A Olano (Sp) Kelme 1min; 17 G Bortolami (It) Mapei Clas 1:01; 18 G Rue (Fr) Banesto 1:04; 19 J-R Uriarte (Sp) Banesto 1:08; 20 P Ugrumov (Latvia) Gewiss Ballan 1:18. Selected: 38 Bugno 1:58; 42 Chiappucci 2:10.

(Photograph and maps omitted)

Mike Rowbottom, page 34