McGregor gears up to break pain barrier

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The Independent Online

Yvonne McGregor takes on the pain of a fractured collar-bone and shoulder blade to defend her British 3,000 metres pursuit title at the National Centre track here, the venue where she broke the world hour record in June.

"I am willing to have a go," the Commonwealth Games points champion from Bradford said yesterday after consulting her physiotherapist. McGregor will not have her shoulder strapped for support, however. "The physio said it would not help. He said that I will not undo the knitting of the bones. It is the muscles that are weak, and the pain will soon tell me.

"Once I get moving it should not be so bad. It is just that initial getting away."

The effort of pushing off a bicycle with big gearing demands strong pulling on the handlebars to get a pursuiter away from the start, and McGregor has been practising standing starts in preparation for today's qualifying round. Last year she clocked 3min 56.3sec to beat Maxine Johnson.

Britain's other casualty, Chris Boardman, was among the spectators at the eight-day title meeting yesterday, interested particularly in the progress of his old rival, Graeme Obree.

When the Scot was disqualified from the defence of his world 4,000m pursuit title in Sicily a year ago, Boardman kept the title in Britain. Now Obree, having changed his racing position to suit the new regulations of the Union Cycliste International, is on course to re-establish himself in world pursuiting.

On Monday he came within two seconds of the world 4,000m record he set in winning the title two years ago, a performance that has now set cycling buzzing about the possibility of a world record in tonight's final. Boardman's fractured ankle and wrist, sustained at the start of the Tour de France, may have sidelined the double world champion, but Obree is on track to shake the world once more.

Shaun Wallace has done his bit to keep British pursuiting on top of the world. The American-based racer won two world pursuit silvers in 1991 and 1992. Yesterday he qualified for Saturday's madison final as did Nottingham's Bryan Steel, Obree's rival in the pursuit final.