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Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Boardman and the banned Superman
Boardman in 1996 at Manchester
Oh Superman: The 1996 position is now banned
On Friday Chris Boardman bids to regain a world record that was taken away from him by the sport's rulemakers at the start of the year.

The ride in Manchester during the World Track Championships will be the Briton's last as a professional and should be a fitting finale to a fine career.

Boardman has already set the world hour record twice before, in 1993 and 1996.

But his second effort has never been challenged since - such was the hi-tech nature of the machinery and aerodynamic technique that he used.

Boardman used the "Superman" position, which involved stretching out far ahead of his front wheel and making his back as flat as possible.

The Union Cycliste International (UCI) decided it was too dangerous and banned the practice soon afterwards.

Boardman rides with disc wheels
Banned: Disc wheels and this bike
Cycling's move backwards had begun.

It accelerated this year when the governing body banned a number of technical aids such as the use of different-sized disc wheels and lightweight one-piece bike frames.

These changes meant that Boardman's records, plus the efforts of British maverick Graeme Obree were effectively consigned to history.

The legendary Miguel Indurain, Switzerland's Tony Rominger and Italian Francesco Moser would also not currently be allowed to employ machinery they used to set new distances.

That took the record back to 1972 and Eddy Merckx's effort of 49.431km - almost 14% less than Boardman's 1996 distance of 56.375.

The hour record is one of the great events of cycling - a mark of strength and the sport's development which stands comparison with the mile in athletics - although on this occasion the time is fixed rather than the distance.

  The hour record
Held around velodrome
The idea is simple: Ride as far as you can in an hour
It is unthinkable that developments in running shoes would be erased to see the mile being sent back to the days of Roger Bannister, but that is what the UCI has done.

No matter, says Boardman. The retiring British rider believes that if he can pass Merckx's record distance, or even subsequently 50km, then it will be a fitting end to his career.

It will also leave a mark for others to aim at - and confirm Boardman as the king of the hour record in the past decade.

But if the UCI decide to head back further towards the day of the penny farthing then Boardman will not be back to try their latest bike design plan.

The minute it's finished, I'm retired, but the last thing I'm going to do is set a mark for the people of the future," said the 32-year-old before this week.

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