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30 years ago today - Boardman takes Olympic gold riding a Lotus bike

TomE

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With the medal successes of Team GB in track cycling over the last 10-15 years, it's difficult to imagine a time when winning an Olympic gold in track cycling was such a major event that it made front page news and caught the world's attention. That day was 29 July 1992, the day Chris Boardman rode the Lotus Type 108 pursuit bike to Olympic gold and a world record in Barcelona.

It was Team GB's first Olympic cycling medal for 72 years and arguably the genesis of "scientific" track cycling, combining considerations of diet, physiology, structured training regimes, biomechanics, performance measurement, technology innovation and what today are called marginal gains.

The story behind that Olympic success and the involvement of Lotus in developing the winning bike are published today to celebrate 30 years since that win.



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I remember seeing the winning 108 in reception at Hethel a few years later. I trained as an engineer and was always fascinated by engineering innovation - the 108 was also a work of art and sculpture. Through my ownership of Lotus cars I met several members of the Lotus team who had developed the bike.

The London Olympics in 2012 prompted me to take up cycling again, having lapsed after university, and eventually led me to acquiring a 1994 Lotus Sport 110 time trial bike, the road-going successor to the 108 and also used by Chris Boardman to win the Tour de France Prologue, World Time Trial Championships and break the Hour Record. My 110 used to belong to Chris' mechanic and has been restored to the 1994 World Time Trial spec.

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The basis for the Type 108 was the pioneering work of cycling innovator Mike Burrows, working in Norfolk not far from Hethel. The precursor to the Type 108 was the Burrows Monocoque and last year I had the opportunity to acquire the Mk 1a prototype, the grandfather of the 110.

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A few years ago, one of the Sport 110 project team had set out to track down as many of the 250 bikes as possible, resulting in the formation of a 108 and 110 register and owners club. As part of the Lotus 70th Anniversary celebrations in 2018 the club reunited Mike Burrows, several of the Lotus project team members, 3 of the 6 Type 108s and a dozen Sport 110s.

Lotus was involved more recently in developing the Hope Lotus HB.T track bike for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 - you may have seen it on the stand at Goodwood last year or in the Hethel Visitor centre.

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Last year the cycling channel GCN made a documentary about the development of the Type 108 and HB.T in the run up to the Tokyo Olympics. The Lotus team, Mike Burrows, Chris Boardman and Team GB staff took part. I played a small part too, loaning my bikes to be included and helping with wind tunnel testing and filming at the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub.

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The Lotus project director for Type 108 was Roger Becker, who was also famed for being chassis engineer for almost every Lotus car and the stunt driver for the white Bond Esprit. After the Olympic medal win in 1992 Roger commissioned a miniature model of the 108 for each member of the project team. This year the owners club created 108 replicas of that model to commemorate the 30th anniversary. These are incredibly detailed and very special:

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Wow! great post & read. How time flies though! Seems like yesterday.
 
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Still spine-tingling to watch. It was virtually unheard of for a rider to catch and overtake their opponent in pursuit racing, particularly at this world-class level.

 
Watching the Commonwealth Games on TV today, worryingly the wife got my joke straight away when I said the other team had not got a Hope 😂

I found it funny, anyway.
 
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Horrible crash at the Commonwealth Games at the London velodrome this morning. Matt Bostock riding a Hope Lotus HB.T for Team England tried to avoid a multi-rider crash ahead of him and went over the barrier into the crowd. Three riders hospitalised and several spectators treated for injuries at the scene. All sound like they will be OK.

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Another gold medal achieved riding a Lotus bike. Congratulations Laura Kenny.

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