News for September 6

Boardman goes for one-hour record

World champion Chris Boardman, who says he is enjoying the best form of his life, goes for the world one-hour cycling record on Friday.

``It is not going to be a cruise, however,'' the Briton said after a workout on the 250-metre wooden track at Manchester Velodrome where a week ago he won the world 4,000 metres pursuit title with a world record best of four minutes 11.114 seconds.

With 55.291 kilometres to beat to regain the blue riband of records, he said: ``Racing against the clock I am going better than ever, that is why I decided to go for it.

``I have a good chance and I hope to beat it by 10 metres. It is such a tremendous standard that Tony Rominger has set, and any future improvements will be by bits.''

In half-an-hour's workout on Wednesday Boardman maintained a 55-kph pace, but pointed out that he had to keep that up -- and more -- for a full hour.

``I am prepared to lose. I will treat it like a defeat in any other race. Conditions are not perfect.''

Boardman said the temperature was nearly four degrees colder than he would like, but the long-range weather forecast promised a change to the temperature and humidity.

It will be nothing like his first hour record on the indoor track at Bordeaux in France.

``It was the worst possible conditions. Eighty per cent humidity in a building with a tin roof in the middle of summer in France,'' said Boardman. But he still broke the record with 52.270 kms.

Graeme Obree recaptured the record in April 1994, but Spain's Miguel Indurain. then Rominger pushed the record further away, all riding on the Bordeaux track.

Switzerland's Rominger established the last record in November 1994.

Boardman has had to modify the Superman posture, developed by Obree, that he used to win the world title last week. In this riding position a rider's arms are fully outstretched.

``After 20 kilometres of riding it become a problem for the shoulder muscles, so I have changed my position so that there is support from my skeletal structure.

``It means losing some ground, but those muscles are used for steering, and when you are taking two to three Gs on the banking at the track bends that is important.''

Boardman is ready to try again if Friday's attack fails. ``It depends on the reasons for missing it. If it is something that we can change, then I may try again. Maybe not the next day but possibly in a week's time.''

Indurain is favourite for the Tour

With five-time Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medalist Miguel Indurain back in the Tour of Spain, the last of Europe's major cycling races to be run this season has recovered its appeal among Spanish and other fans.

Indurain, whose absence for several years had dampened enthusiasm for the race, will take up the challenge that begins on Saturday to demonstrate he's able to win the only race he lacks in his long list of cycling triumphs.

The serious young man from the northern Navarre region, considered to be Spain's greatest athlete ever, will have perhaps an added incentive to win this year after ending his five-year title streak in the Tour de France this summer by finishing 11th, behind Dane Bjarne Riis.

It may be his last shot. Sources at Indurain's Spanish team Banesto told the sports daily Marca this week that their star performer feels mentally drained and is thinking of retiring this winter. Neither Indurain or Banesto commented on the report.

Since he won his first Tour de France, Indurain has refused to participate in the Spanish race to concentrate his training toward winning the Tour of France in July.

But his team, Banesto, appears to have convinced him this time. ``I didn't especially want to race, but it's the team that decides,'' the 32-year-old cyclist said the day he announced his participation. ``I always feel like racing and winning, though, especially in such a big race.''

Indurain has not participated in the Spanish tour since 1991, when he placed second behind Spaniard Melchor Mauri.

Swiss cyclist Tony Rominger, his etern rival for many years in the Tour de France and three-time Spanish race winner, is returning this year seeking a record fourth title.

French rider Laurent Jalabert, winner of last year's Tour of Spain, and his ONCE teammate Alex Zulle of Switzerland, should again be the five-time Tour chamption's main challengers in this Spanish race, as they have been in the French tour in recent years.

Also in the running should be Spaniards Fernando Escartin and Melchor Mauri, and Mario Cipollini of Italy.

The 22-stage Tour will cover 3,898 kilometers (1,772 miles) this year, climbing 2,000 meters (6,000 feet) through Navacerrada pass in the mountains north of Madrid after covering Spain's southern Mediterranean coast.

The route has the riders traveling counter-clockwise around the Iberian Peninsula and finishing September 29 in Madrid, following a critical 44-kilometer (27-mile) time trial the day before which could determine the winner.

Indurain's strategy has generally been to stay close in the mountain passes and exploit his tremendous time-trial abilities to put minutes between himself and the others.

The strongest of the 20 teams entered are Spanish, but foreign teams such as Telekom of France or Italy's Gewiss and Mapei will be a threat.

The Mediterranean town of Valencia is the site of Saturday's 162-kilometer (100-mile) first stage, and the start of Sunday's second which will take the riders through central Spain.

The first long race against the clock this year is the tenth stage, on September 17, a 46-kilometer (28-mile) ride to the Castilian city of Avila.

It will be followed by four days uphill to through the northern mountain region and preceded by the lone rest day on September 16.