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What's so special about Chris Boardman?
What's so special about Chris Boardman?
Chris Boardman
Olympic gold medallist

From the Olympics to the world hour record and the Tour de France, Chris Boardman did it all.

He won gold in Barcelona, set world records and was a three-stage winner on the Tour.

But what made Boardman such an all-rounder in the cycling world?


I rode my first bike race when I was 13-years old.

And as I got older, I began to take it pretty seriously.

I was on the national cycling team from the age of 16, but I was going to the World Championships and getting an absolute kicking.

But it wasn't until I was 21 that I realised I could win the World Championships. That's when all life began to revolve around this one sport.

What's so special about Chris Boardman?

And that's where it stayed for the next decade.

For me, being serious wasn't the amount of cycling I was doing, it was more the mental approach.

It was the change from having a laugh with your mates to wanting to win and doing more training and analysing what was working and what wasn't.

My mental ability was my strength.

It was the ability to apply myself to one specific task beyond reason or logic.

If you looked at the odds of who's going to win an Olympic title you probably wouldn't even bother.

But someone has to win. Tenacity was my best asset.


There's a lot of technique, skill and tactics involved in cycling.

The slipstream plays an important part too.

On a flat piece of road doing 50 km/h, I could be doing anything up to a third of the work following very closely the man in front.

What's so special about Chris Boardman?

So tactics are a huge part of the sport and all these things take time to learn.

On the physical front, how much oxygen you can shift is the underlying factor in cycling.

I could shift a large amount of oxygen but I wasn't particularly muscular, I couldn't produce peak powers.

But I could keep a large portion of that power going for an hour and that was my little niche.

The fastest I've actually been is going through the Mont Blanc tunnel during the Tour de France.

I was travelling at over 100 km/h - at that speed I tend to close my eyes!


There are three highlights I would pick out from my career.

The first was winning gold in the Olympic Games because that opened the international door for me.

Breaking the world one-hour record, which is a blue riband event in cycling, like the four-minute mile in running.

Thirdly, there's winning the first stage of the Tour de France which is the biggest event in cycling.

What's so special about Chris Boardman?

The only thing which is bigger than winning a stage in the Tour de France is winning the Tour overall.

And I wasn't capable of that. So I pretty much got what I wanted.

The Tour de France was a mental war of attrition - it's as much about that as it is physical.

When you start stage 15, it's 264km with seven mountain passes and that means climbing up to 2000 metres.

At least then you realise you're up against it!

That's the hardest thing I ever did.

My advice is don't get into the sport unless it interests you.

Don't start it just because someone has told you that you're physically right for it.

And if you think that cycling is all about getting a sore bum then forget it!

Once you're doing it right all the power is through your legs, so you might end up with sore feet but that's about it!

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