It was an unwritten rule that only great champions could attempt the Hour record: Desgrange, Petit-Breton, Coppi, Anquetil and Merckx. But on July 17, 1993, an unknown Scot on a bike made out of bits of old washing machine broke that rule and the record.
Six days later, a Liverpudlian – better known for winning the Olympic pursuit – on a space-age carbon-fibre bike, stole it from him.
The mainstream media, unaccustomed to British success in cycling, fixated on the equipment.
Twenty years on, the time is right to tell the story of the men who rode the machines. Ex-Cycle Sport journalist Edward Pickering tracks down all the key figures, including Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree themselves, to examine the legendary rivalry. ?A very human tale emerges: ?two men apparently diametrically opposed in their approaches are in the end not so different in their desire to succeed.
Pickering traces current British success back to the innovative sports science-based coaching pioneered by Peter Keen, with Boardman the original lab rat. And if Boardman was the first of a new order of champions, Obree was the last of the old ones – a truly independent racer.
The Scot suffered from depression but always hid it by playing the quirky inventor. Similarly, Boardman did nothing to change the public’s perception of him as the emotionless robot. The Race Against Time goes in search of what was really going on behind the scenes.