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I'm looking forward to meeting up with Chris Boardman again, who will be alongside me for all the cycling events in China.

When Chris won his Olympic Gold medal in Barcelona in 1992, it was Britain's first cycling gold since the tandem event at the Antwerp Games of 1920! (When Brits Harry Ryan and Thomas Lance finished the 2,000m course ahead of a South African duo).

A young Chris Boardman celebrates Olympic gold in 1992


How things have changed, with all the hope, hype and expectation surrounding the team this time round after their nine Track Cycling World Championship golds in March.

Chris's role was, and still is, key to the development of the sport in the UK and he also inadvertently helped me to establish full coverage of the Tour de France on BBC Radio.

Without his presence on the line in Lille in 1994, I doubt whether BBC bosses would have agreed to send an eager young reporter around France for three weeks.

He won that day - and the coverage was up and running.

Boardman really helped to raise the profile of the sport and he had an excellent working relationship with his coach Peter Keen.

They were a great pairing and Keen was able to transfer his success with Chris to a bigger group when he set up the World Class Performance Plan in 1997.

His vision changed the face of British cycling and when he left to take up a post with UK Sport, a template for success had been laid.

The current team manager Dave Brailsford has refined and added to the early work, leading to unprecedented levels of success.

But I think the new ideas and obviously the victories of Boardman and Keen were crucial in leading to change.

In case you are wondering, Boardman is still involved with the squad. He has a Senior Management position with British Cycling and and is Head of Technical Development, which I imagine he loves.

As you can tell if you read Chris Hoy's latest blog, all seems well inside the camp as the riders prepare to start tapering off their training down in Newport.

The same thing happens to us commentators you know, my prep's tapering off about now!

The bulk of the hard work has been done, the notes are printed up and all that's left is some bag-packing and a last couple of days with the family before the latest adventure begins.

I believe this one has the potential to be rather special.

Simon Brotherton is a commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live, concentrating on the cycling in Beijing. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


Comments

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  • 1. At 1:08pm on 01 Aug 2008, bauba30 wrote:

    I would argue that the real reason that cycling took off was the tandem of Boardman and Graham Obree - Obree's accomplishments on a home made bike made him a much loved figure, especially in Scotland, and as much as Boardman had the Olympic medals, the way Obree destroyed him in the World Pursuit is my abiding memory of that period

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  • 2. At 1:29pm on 01 Aug 2008, sportgod wrote:

    Chris' gold is my favourite memory of the '92 olympics and it is due to that i got interested in cycling as a sport, seeing him not only win but overtake his opponent was spellbinding!

    since then we have slowly gone from strength to strenght as a cycling nation, building upto Queely getting gold, Hoys continuing success and hopefully a Green Jersey in the future for Cavendish.

    If all goes to plan i will have alot more enjoyable cycling memories from Beijing.

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  • 3. At 1:30pm on 01 Aug 2008, jmccabe wrote:

    bauba30: - that's what I was going to say :-) Seriously though while Boardman was the one who first attracted the publicity I think that it would not have lasted as long or been as important if Obree had not become involved.

    Obree is a legend; there can't be many (if any) other people who have achieved what Graeme Obree has achieved without the full support of their sport's governing body. In fact, the UCI seem to have gone out of their way to put as many obstacles as possible in Obree's path (although not literally of course!).

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  • 4. At 1:31pm on 01 Aug 2008, Tony Torrance wrote:

    Chris Boardman did not kick start British Cycling. He was a fine rider but a one trick pony when it came down to it.

    Both the legendary Robert Millar and Graham Obree, in there contrasting and eccentric ways showed what could be achieved by sheer hard work, will, ingenuity and talent.

    Both are in my opinion substantially more important than Boardman.

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  • 5. At 1:54pm on 01 Aug 2008, womble88 wrote:

    tonytorra, are you Scottish by any chance?

    Totally agree that Obree and Boardman contributed a great deal to laying the foundations of our current success. The contrast between Boardman's technical, leave no stone-unturned professionalism and Obree's maverick, sheer guts approach made their rivalry so compelling and appealing to the media and general public.

    You could argue that elements of both approaches can be traced in the current set-up (although Boardman's influence is inevitably more pronounced due to his position in British Cycling).

    Fine rider though he was, not sure if you can say Robert Millar's influence was quite equal to those two - unfairly or not, I'd see him as more of a cycling enthusiast's hero rather than one known to the public at large. Looking forward to reading that recent biography of him though (and very much enjoyed 'The Flying Scotsman' film about Obree).

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  • 6. At 1:58pm on 01 Aug 2008, The Marvellous Mechanical Mouth Organ wrote:

    Boardman is a legend and is still givinb a hell of a lot to the British Cycling Team.

    I will never forget him gunning down Jens Lehmann the German superman in the pursuit! This guy had never been overtaken and there was Boardman zooming past him to get the gold. Sheer magic!

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  • 7. At 2:13pm on 01 Aug 2008, BeijingBull wrote:

    In the current cycling euphoria, it's good to see the mighty Graham Obree getting a mention.

    Chris Boardman grabbed front page headline with his spectacular gold in Barcelona '92, but Obree was always there on the back pages and could easily fill Cycling weekly with his amazing exploits: he was truly the cyclists' cyclist.

    Everyone knows about the record breaking bike built with parts of a washing machine, but that's only a small part of his story. I haven't yet read 'Flying Scotsman' or seen the subsequent movie, but thanks to your timely reminders Bauba, J McCabe, TonyTorra and Womble88, I will put that right as soon as possible.

    Can you all imagine what he could have achieved with just half the support and funding afforded to Chris Boardman? No disrespect intended to the great CB - who seems to be revelling in his new title 'Q' with Brit Cycling.

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  • 8. At 2:21pm on 01 Aug 2008, BeijingBull wrote:

    Like me, Earl of Cherwell, you probably wish Boarders hadn't quite caught Lehmann, because in doing so he couldn't post a new world record which would almost certainly still stand today, as, until the catch, CB was slicing more than half a second off what was already an astonishing time.

    Since then of course, the 'Superman' riding position has been banned - but that was only because some riders couldn't hold it for four minutes, so their national federations put the boot in.

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  • 9. At 2:23pm on 01 Aug 2008, BeijingBull wrote:

    PS to last comment: CB was slicing half a second PER LAP off the old time!

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  • 10. At 3:54pm on 01 Aug 2008, jmb wrote:

    I think the sentiments in the op were that Boardman brought cycling to a new generation, that he put it on the main headlines instead of tucked away in specialist magazines.

    Millar and Obree can't quite make the same claim although they clearly made big contributions in the annuls of cycling, a lot of the current crop would know more about Boardman when they were kids than the others, its that spreading of the word that is the key here, rather than the scale of the accomplishments per se.

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  • 11. At 4:29pm on 01 Aug 2008, bauba30 wrote:

    JMB - I would respectively disagree with you - Obree was all over the front and back of the press back home, the story of his home-built bike being the stuff of legend.

    Plus, BBC Scotland cut into regular programming to screen all his races at 3 world champs in a row

    I was a kid at the time - but my thoughts at the time were that Obree's talent was defeating Boardmans technology - Boardman was headline news during the Olympics but Obree's story, whether it be the one mile record, the world champs wins, the hopme made bike or the battle with the sport's ruling body were in the headlines for a good few years

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  • 12. At 5:48pm on 01 Aug 2008, pistolpete72 wrote:

    I just wanted to remind everyone of Robert Miller.


    I watch Robert climb an alp when I was about 13 and I have not looked back but my inspiration these days is Steve Peat
    Who is a living legend in the world of Downhill
    Do you think Downhill will ever be an Olympic sport??
    Cuz we would clean up
    CB on his lotus was awesome though and I was transfixed.

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  • 13. At 6:03pm on 01 Aug 2008, pistolpete72 wrote:

    apologies, I did not read whole thread thoroughly enough
    Robert Miller has already been mentioned.
    Jolly Good

    I touched his sadle once on one of the old 80's kellogs tour of Britain's

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  • 14. At 7:44pm on 01 Aug 2008, Jason wrote:

    I thought Hugh Porter was commentating on the cycling in Beijing?

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  • 15. At 01:13am on 02 Aug 2008, jcgoodlett2 wrote:

    bauba30, quite brilliant on the addition of a mythos turned real hero to many - that of Graham Obree...in my day of cycling, his down home cookin' of bike engineering, was simply the right stuff that makes legends...across the pond in the 'Mericas, Graham was the chat up of every cyclist I came across in USCF races, and had us spending large quantities of oxygen having the discuss and debate...

    that is to say, not to take anything away from Boardman and what I believe was a Lotus designed super frame...!...

    have to go now and pedal my 80s era Vitus frame on the trainer now...thanks lads for the great memory!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 16. At 02:15am on 02 Aug 2008, majesticpaddie wrote:

    Agree about all the above riders, all would arguably have become legends wherever they came from. I feel however that the key reason for the current level of success of British cycling is Keen. Probably the only time a major sport in Britain has had a renaissance with such spectacular results. Brailsford et al are even managing to improve to another level hopefully in a few weeks

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  • 17. At 09:18am on 02 Aug 2008, John Thomson wrote:

    I have to agree with previous posters who say that CB was given all the help in the world to do what he did, whereas Obree was fighting against the establishment every time.
    Both were great but Obree was better!

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  • 18. At 1:24pm on 02 Aug 2008, Sam wrote:

    Getting back to the original topic instead of 'who is the better cyclist'?

    I don't think anyone can argue that Boardman took British Time Trialling into the future via the Hour Record, Tour de France and especially Technology which the Media lapped up. Boardman also understood how the Media works and that simply being a fast cyclist would never make any headlines, just like Miller never made the headlines in Le Tour or La Vuelta. I'm not saying Obree didn't get involved, but Obree being in the mainstream media, was largely only due to his duel with Boardman and the story of a Carbon Fibre Lotus up against a home made bike with a washing machine bearing. Obree on his own would not have been a story, just another Robert Miller who nobody other than cyclists know their name or amazing performances.

    Boardman's approach of looking at every minute physiological and technical improvment that is possible, in order to gain a 1% advantage is exactly what sport science today is all about today and his input with British Cycling is as important as Keen or Brailsford’s. Indeed, hearing Brailsford speak of Boardman and the equipment and how excited he is to get all the Secret Squirrel kit out in Beijing, you realise all of this is simply a continuation of Boardmans drive and love of ccling technology. In no few words, Brailsford has said that in Beijing the technical improvements they have to bike, body and rider will blow all our minds! The best thing, is nobody will notice other than the World Record tumbling in Beijing and it all goes back into storage until 2012!

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  • 19. At 08:22am on 06 Aug 2008, amt27blog wrote:

    Boardman et al may have inspired a few youngsters, we have always had talent in cycling, it just hasn't been developed effectively,

    but more likely the reason for having a unsuccessful cycling squad is the realisation that track cycling could be "medal cow", much like swimming is for other nations,

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