Boardman breaks world record in last race

Former Olympic and world champion Chris Boardman today set a new world one-hour cycling record in the final race of his career.

Former Olympic and world champion Chris Boardman today set a new world one-hour cycling record in the final race of his career.

The 32-year-old Englishman covered 30.723 miles in one hour, eclipsing the record of the legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx set in 1972 set in Mexico City of 30.716 miles.

Boardman surpassed the 28-year-old mark by about 11 metres, sprinting furiously over the last few laps and then collapsing into the arm of his long-time manger Roger Legeay, who persuaded him to turn professional in 1993.

Boardman, who has had a poor year and a poor Olympics, was cheered on trackside by his wife Sally Anne who, with Legeay and 2,500 screaming fans, pushed him over the last few laps.

In 1996, Boardman set the one-hour record - 35.031 miles - riding a bicycle made form space-age materials like Kevlar and carbon fiber. And he used aerodynamically efficient components, helmet and clothing.

Since then, the world governing body of cycling - the UCI - changed its mind and decided to "set aside" Boardman's record, outlawing technological innovations of the last 20 years.

It has ruled all future records must be set on an orthodox bicycle with a steel frame and devoid of any streamlining or aerodynamic aids.

Boardman got the first shot at establishing the new record in his final appearance before retiring. It was an attempt clouded by confusion.

Less than 24 hours before making the ride, Boardman said he believed any distance he covered would become the new record. But a few hours before attempting the record he was told he had to surpass Merckx's standard to become the new record holder.

A UCI spokesman described Merckx's old mark as a "benchmark" rather than a record. However, in statement on September 9, the cycling body contradicted itself and said the "UCI Hour Record is the one Eddy Merckx achieved in Mexico."

Boardman's old record on the hi-tech bike had been called the "Best Hour Performance" by the UCI.

The Liverpool-born rider won the Olympic pursuit gold medal in 1992 and was world pursuit and world road time-trial champion in 1994.

In 1996, he won the world pursuit for the second time with a 4,000-metre world record of 4 minutes 11.114 seconds, which still stands. He is also a three-time winner of the Tour de France prologue time trial.

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