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The day I wore yellow: Boardman and his Tour de France lesson

George Smith
19 Jul 2019

Cyclist chatted to Chris Boardman 25 years on from his Tour de France prologue win

When Cyclist met Chris Boardman at an Ovo Energy initiative event before last year's Tour de France, we also spoke about the famous yellow jersey.

Boardman, variously nicknamed The Professor and Mr Prologue, first donned the yellow jersey in 1994 when he won the first stage of the 81st Tour de France.

Despite coming into the race as UCI time-trial world champion, Boardman was still a relative newcomer to the tarmac, having previously made a name for himself on the track and as the Hour Record holder.

Even so, the young man from the Wirral managed to better two of the best testers of his generation, Miguel Indurain and Tony Rominger, to make history – although it came a massive surprise to the man himself.

‘When I got the yellow jersey I was effectively a time-triallist completely out of my depth in this environment full of incredibly talented people,' recalls Boardman.

‘I thought they were mad but then I had to admit they weren’t falling off so they’re just really skilled.’

Despite his modest comments, he does credit his time in yellow as an important experience that ultimately made him a much better rider.

‘What it did for me was give me a passport to the front, so I could get to be there and learn how to stay there – and then that reputation makes a big difference,’ Boardman adds.

‘It was more than just pride and enjoyment at winning things, it actually helped me do a better job and become a better bike rider.’

Nowadays it is hard for any fan to imagine anything better than earning the right to wear the yellow jersey at the front of the peloton, but Boardman recalls it slightly differently.

‘I didn’t appreciate it at the time, it was only when you look backwards when you haven’t had it a few times that you realise how valuable it is’.