OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Boardman bounced back to reality

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CHRIS Boardman came down to earth after his gold medal on the cycling track when he swapped his space-age machine for a more conventional racer suitable for the team version of the 4,000 metres pursuit.

The bike that shook the racing world was on its way home, guarded by Lotus technicians, when the Olympic champion and team-mates Paul Jennings, Bryan Steel and Glen Sword were fifth fastest in the time trial to find the eight quarter-finalists.

'When I first got on the conventional bike, it was a bit of a shock to the system,' Boardman said. 'I was still a little stuffed from the final and I just could not raise the pace.'

Their time, 4min 19.126sec, trimmed their best 4,000m achieved on this track in the pre- Olympics meeting last September when they were second to Denmark. They improved that in the quarter-finals to 4:14.350, but to no avail. Again they faced the Danes and again were second best. Doug Dailey, the British team manager, said: 'We were expecting a little better than that.'

Italy, Germany and Australia joined Denmark in the semi- finals, with the Australian quartet of Stephen McGlede, Stuart O'Grady, Brett Aitken and Shaun O'Brien undoubtably favourites for the gold. They set the world's fastest time of 4:11.245 in the preliminary round, and then beat it in their quarter-final when they caught Czechoslovakia and clocked 4:10.438.