Obree throws away contract

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The Independent Online
cycling Graeme Obree dropped out of world cycling yesterday as controversially as he entered it two years ago. The Scot took his doctor's advice to rest for three months, threw away a two-year contract with a new French team, and left his manager, Frank Quinn, sick with disappointment.

"He is tired, lacking motivation and training," Quinn said. "If he felt that way he should have been shouting in December. It's a bit late now. I only discovered that he had not gone to France when I phoned his home on Tuesday."

Obree sent a medical certificate to the management of his team, Le Groupement, on Wednesday, but Guy Molet, the general manager of the Le Groupement team, had made up his mind.

"They said they did not need him," Quinn said. "Molet told me: `We do not want someone who is without enthusiasm'." So Obree's two-year contract ended four days after it had started.

"It's madness," Quinn said. "Graeme has a family, and he has lost a good salary for two years, and a big opportunity with a strong team. If he had a legitimate reason for not going I would fight for him, but it's hard to have sympathy. He had made no effort to tell anyone that he was not going. There has been no great loyalty or enthusiasm shown by him.

"He has been a world champion, a record-holder, but now he is just a bike rider. I don't whether the challenge of being in a big team was too much for him. There was certainly no pressure on him.

"Hopefully, he will recover and train seriously. Perhaps he might try for the world hour record again, but for now he is possibly taking a holiday."

Obree has been dogged by regulations since he first amazed purists with his home-made bike and unusual approach to racing. In 1983 he broke the world hour record and weeks later won the world 4,000 metres pursuit title. He beat the Olympic pursuit champion, Chris Boardman, on the way to that crown, and after Boardman beat his world record, Obree regained it last April.

Unfortunately for Obree he also stirred the technical brains of the world governing body, the Union Cycliste International. Concerned at bike design overriding the performance of the rider, they rewrote their rules regarding bike construction and a rider's position. That effectively outlawed Obree.

Then in Palermo last August, the defence of his 4,000

metres track title ended in disqualification as officials finally slapped the brakes on his self-made style.

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