Boardman's salvage operation

 

This year as last, Chris Boardman will start the world time-trial championship in the knowledge that a medal-winning performance will salvage something from a season ruined by injuries and poor form.

If Boardman takes a medal in the Netherlands today, he will continue a remarkable run in the discipline, which was given world championship status in 1994, the year he took gold. He missed the 1995 title after breaking his ankle in the Tour de France, took silver in Lugano in 1996, and bronze last year in San Sebastian.

Boardman's annus horribilis was 1997, marred by two crashes which left him with twisted vertebrae and put him out of the Tour de France and Tour of Spain. This year history has repeated itself: after winning the prologue time-trial in the Tour, Boardman again crashed out, breaking a bone in his wrist.

"It's not been very satisfactory," he said. "I had a plan for the year, and it went off course early on."

The world time-trial championship is "unfinished business", but Boardman will have to beat favourite Abraham Olano of Spain, silver medallist in 1995 and winner of the Tour of Spain 10 days ago.

Dutchwoman Leontien van Moorsel won the elite women's time trial title at the world road championships yesterday as favourite Jeannie Longo flopped.