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.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little