I have a love hate relationship with David Millar. Loved him when he rode a skateboard, lived in Biarritz and raced bikes for a living. He was living the life we all wanted. Hated him when he got caught doping. It exposed to us the under belly of our sport, where riders stashed dope in their apartments. Loved him when he pulled himself out of a drunken stupor and got his ass back on the bike because he genuinely missed it. Loved his absolute suicidal attack into Barcelona last year, and cursed him for not having just that little bit more. In these days of Directors running the race like a video game from the car, you don’t see too many riders going with their gut anymore, and thinking what the hell.
In the last few weeks Millar has started to show all the potential we hoped he had, and either never seemed to have the luck, or the legs to pull off the wins to back up all off the talk. Getting towards the end of his best years in the peleton maybe he has reached that perfect balance of fitness, street smart, built-in endurance and talent. Or is he now a beneficiary of a peleton that is maybe for one of the first seasons, racing clean (almost, there is always one right?).
His ride in last Sunday’s Criterium International shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was. Watching it I had that feeling that somebody always pips him, and it would be another 2nd, 3rd or 4th place. Nice ride David, but no win. Didn’t happen, he managed to beat Contador into 2nd place, now one of the best TT riders around. This made me happy, and I was genuinely pleased to see him pick up a big stage win in a rated raced, with a quality field. And now the Three Days De Panne, a very tough and highly regarded stage race. His ride in the first two stages saw him ride with the head of a Pro who has been there before and saw the bigger goal. On the first day finishing where he needed to be. On the second, driving the break for the time gain and sacrificing the stage win. The Millar of a few seasons back would have been pushing for the stage win to prove he could ride clean and win. The time-trial, well lets just say he nailed it. In the space of a couple of weeks he has strung together his most successful run, and is riding with a lovely to watch confidence. All of this while acting as a road captain for our Dan Martin.
Now what? He is practically a Flanders and Roubaix virgin (I don’t think he has ever finished them), but with these legs I wouldn’t write him off. He just needs a little bit of luck on the cobbles, and to keep the air in his tires, why not? He could even do something in the Giro? Garmin will have a good team there and last years race was for me the best Grand Tour to watch. I am officially crossing my fingers for him for the rest of the season, and may I get all of his punctures over the next two weekends.