Obree's night ends in farce

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The Independent Online
Cycling

Graeme Obree, the world champion, is ready to drop his home-made special bikes after an hour of farce last night ended in defeat by the Olympic champion, Chris Boardman, on the Bercy indoor track in Paris.

The Scot lost by 1.7sec in a 4,000m pursuit, the discipline at which both riders brought glory to Britain. "There will be no more messing about with my own stuff at all," Obree said. "I need bikes desperately. I have only two others and this episode has proved it. I will go for carbon-fibre frames built to my own specifications"

The race was delayed for an hour after Obree snapped his chain wheel completely from the frame with his effort of starting. At first the French team offered a bike but, once it had been adjusted amid a melee of television cameras and photographers, it was taken back because a French rider needed it.

Then the Italians came to the rescue with a specialist bike provided by Alessandro Romio, but Obree was never at home on the machine. "I did not want to race, but it would have been unfair to Chris. It would have been a different story if I had had my own bike and I was hitting my knees on my elbows as I raced," Obree admitted.

His distinctive style and bike that brought him the World 4,000m title in 1993 and the world hour record was eventually outlawed by the technical masters of world cycling.

Obree was thrown out of the World Championships in Palermo last year for breaking the Union Cycliste Internationale ruling about his riding style. He came back this year to retake the title with a new and acceptable design of bike.

Boardman, whose time of 4min 39.8sec was nowhere near his best, took nearly a four-second lead over Obree before the Scot sprinted hard to pull it back to less than two seconds.

Boardman had brought the world 4,000m crown back to Britain last year but his Tour de France injuries prevented his defending it in Colombia earlier this month.

Boardman, having his first track outing since his injuries, said: "I expected a real kicking. I am not foolish, however, I know I had the luck in this race. It was difficult and at first I was really nervous, but I just hope things work out for Graeme. The way he came back to win the title again was a really courageous ride."

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