Tour gets on top of Boardman

The leading British cyclist is nursing more than his injuries: he fears for his future in big stage races like the Tour de France.

Chris Boardman struggled with two agonies as the Tour de France rested here yesterday. Nearly two weeks after he took the leader's yellow jersey for a second year, he hung a big question mark over his Tour future.

It was prompted more by his inconsistent form than his crash on a Pyrenean mountain descent which displaced two vertebrae, and left him in great pain.

"Big tours seem to be beyond me," he said. "I am a good enough single- day rider and for smaller stage races. I am 28 and I have to know what I can do.

"I shall be making a career review after this, but it doesn't have to be as drastic as it sounds. I just have to get people around me to accept what I can do."

Certainly, he wants to escape the pressure that being team leader incurs. "I took on the position of leader because it was open, but I may be better off as a No 2 or 3. Then I don't feel the pressure.

"The opening time trial is a hell of a lot of pressure. In seven and a half minutes you have to get everything out. That I can handle."

With his team sponsors, GAN, the French insurance group, quitting at the end of the year, Boardman may have to consider offers from other teams unless his current team manager, Roger Legeay, finds a new backer.

Among Boardman's problems is one that many riders would love to have. His career highlights since he won Olympic gold in Barcelona include a yellow jersey debut in the Tour in 1994, the world hour record in 1993 and 1996, and world titles in the 4,000 metres track pursuit (1994 and 1996) and the road time trial in 1994.

The next step up is huge. "It is only logical for people to expect more after what I have done," Boardman said.

"After that opening time trial any results would have been a bonus. Luckily Cedric [Vasseur] took up the reins, but it was like salt in my wounds."

Vasseur's valiant solo effort put Boardman's fellow GAN rider in the yellow jersey for four days, and that took the pressure off the Briton. He rode on in agony after his crash. "It was like a poker sticking in me for eight and a half hours. Each day after that I would ride saying: `I cannot carry on with this.' Yet still I kept turning the pedals."

Boardman has known Tour agony twice. In 1995 Britain expected much, but the twilight in Brittany turned into the twilight of his Tour. He crashed on a wet road in the opening time trial, and next day was flown home with fractures to a wrist and ankle.

Last year he announced that it was Paris or bust. He reached the French capital, but suffered with an internal bug that made life hard on a vicious stage to Pamplona. Such hardships made him work harder on being right for 1997.

"I could not have done any more than I did to prepare, and I was even two kilos lighter than the previous year," he said. "However, I was not happy with my form. It is so inconsistent, and now I am having blood tests to check it out.

"It is going to be a laborious search just to find the reason why I cannot maintain my form."

Now he is "dead set" on reaching Paris. "It is not in my nature to give up," he said. "I am one and a half hours behind the leader, but I am focusing on the positive."

One aim is success for Frederic Moncassin. GAN's sprinter has missed out in all the sprint finishes so far. "I will be trying hard to get Fred in a good position for a victory. I feel so sorry for him. He has been frustrated too often."

Meanwhile, Boardman is focussed on today's 55km mountain time trial at St Etienne. Before his tumble he would have been a real threat to the Tour leader, Jan Ullrich, but despite pain-killing tablets, acupuncture and physiotherapy, his injury stops him riding his special time-trial bike.

"I cannot ride in that position. In fact I cannot even put my hands in my pockets because of the torn muscles around my neck," Boardman said.

Ullrich is expected to romp home in the time trial, especially as Boardman is injured and some other real threats - Tony Rominger, Alex Zulle and Yevgeny Berzin- are all at home, nursing their broken collarbones.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine