Tag Archives: David Millar

Nationality and the nationals

Today it is the National Road Race Championships in Glasgow. I looked at the course a little while back and the Spokedoke blog has done as good a preview as I could aspire to, so I thought I would post some alternative thoughts that have been rattling around my head.

As I began to establish my blog I looked for a niche angle to focus on – there were already numerous bloggers covering the international pro scene better than I ever could. Even in 2010 it was clear that Inner Ring was a cut above, and I thought that if I had no hope of writing pieces as good as that, I’d be better off staying local and focusing on Scotland.

Allez l'Écosse

A minority of people eschew their national allegiances when it comes to sport. For example, I have heard writer Daniel Friebe say he has no real interest or passion to see British winners in cycling. As he grew up, Italian riders and racing were what excited him and is where his support still lies.

One of Scotland’s greatest riders, Robert Millar, seemed to distance himself from Scotland and Glasgow as his early pro career took off, seemingly seeing himself as an outsider and apart from his own country. However after retirement he was quoted as saying he would vote SNP if he lived in Scotland. [Richard Moore, In Search of Robert Millar]

I am proud to be Scottish – it is a beautiful country, despite the weather and our achievements down the centuries in all manner of fields, from science to literature, as well as sport, are distinguished. I was born in Edinburgh, but my mother is Welsh and my Father English. In primary school I was slagged for my accent, as my R’s pretty soft, so I made a concerted effort to change the way I spoke to avoid the jibes. How Scottish does that make me?

Sport under a national banner is a powerful thing that can unite a country. Gino Bartali was asked in 1948 by politicians to win in France to boost a fragile post-war Italy, and his victory eased the tensions of internal feuding. But the nature of sport is that it is played out within the bounds of certain rules, and the place where national lines are drawn is different to other walks of life.

David Millar custom Scotland shoes

Contrast myself with David Millar, leaving aside the Grand Canyon-sized gulf in ability for a moment. Born to Scottish parents in Malta, he grew up in various places around the world;  ‘more Scottish’ than me by blood, but arguably with less of an affinity to the place.

I have heard the fairly cynical view that he only rode the Commonwealth Games as a route to the 2012 Olympics, but this doesn’t square with the pride and cameraderie that was obvious in his statements and those of his team-mates after his bronze medal in the road race Dehli 2010. In any case, there was no guarantee of London selection at that point, with the BOA’s lifetime ban for dopers still to be challenged. With the cynical hat back on, why would he bother with the national road race in Glasgow today? He has won it before and I’d expect him to avoid risking a crash ahead of the Tour de France. But his appearance today might show that he would be proud to win in Scotland. On balance his allegiance to Scotland still seems to be more of a sporting one rather than a cultural or social one, but maybe a return for Glasgow 2014 would tip the balance.

Kilmacolm Kermesse 5th May 2013

Ben Geenwood is a domestic rider who will be riding in Glasgow today for his Hope Factory Racing team. He was selected for the Ras recently and came under some harsh scrutiny for his English nationality. He has lived in Scotland for a while, has close family connections and is as much a part of the local scene as Scottish-born pros Evan Oliphant and James McCallum. Scottish Cycling, under pressure to justify their funding, will select the strongest national team from the riders available, with the best chance of posting a good result in a big race. Ben is popular in the Scottish cycling community and will have plenty of support if he is selected for Glasgow 2014. There will be some who feel that without Scottish blood or birthplace he is ‘not Scottish enough’, but we aren’t playing by those rules.

While the rules and moral interpretation of sport are not always clear-cut at the international level, politics also come into it on a personal and at a local level. It all depends how nationalistic you want to be.

David Millar’s Tour stage win

A collection of images from David Millar’s win on stage 12 of the 2012 Tour de France. This post comes very muchafter the event but I wanted to celebrate it on the blog as I am a Millar fan.

As a blogger I’m fighting to stay within the time cut at the moment, rather than driving the break- in a month’s time I might have some Chris Hoy pictures for you all.

I have been hoping for a stage win from Millar since his solo escape into Barcelona in 2009. He had come close in a few time trials, and got into a few breaks but only

Millar had the strength to mark most of the moves in the final few kilometres, and then the tactical nous to allow strong climber Pereaud a bit of a gap when he attacked in the final kilometre, before jumping the three remaining breakaway riders to latch onto the AG2R man’s wheel. Then he had the confidence to lead out the sprint, knowing he had the beating of the sometime mountain biker.

David Millar - Tour de France, stage 12
© Garmin Sharp

In addition to the way he drove the break, got the jump on his rivals and powered past Pereaud to the line, he made a point about cycling’s dark recent past in the post-race interview. Without prompting he referred to himself as “an ex-doper” and took on the issue of his ban and tainted past upfront. Contrast that to Alejandro Valverde’s avoidance of the issue, even when questioned by journalists, after his win in the Pyrenees on stage 17.

David Millar - Tour de France, stage 12
© Garmin Sharp

Naysayers may point out that the stage was a classic ‘day for the break’, with the Alps in the legs and a rolling stage unlikely to shake up the GC, the teams did not mount a chase and allowed the breakaway a lead of 10 minutes plus. Despite that, simply getting in a break at the Tour is hard enough, especially after 10 days of racing.


YORICK JANSENS/EPA

Press
Guardian
Cycling Weekly
Cyclingnews.com

David Millar’s prototype aero helmet

David Millar sported an aero helmet on the final stage of the Tour de France. I’m far from a gear expert but I thought I’d bring together a few thoughts on it.

David Millar - Tour de France, stage 21
pic © Team Garmin-Cervélo
click through for their flickr photos of the Tour

The helmet caused plenty of reaction on twitter, initially with people wondering who the rider was and whether it was an aero or track helmet – “WTF?”, if you like. Screenshots from Eurosport and itv4 were posted.

Even amongst pros, one of the prevailing feelings is that out-and-out aero kit during a road stage is not the done thing. “Like turning up to an amateur race in a skinsuit and not even getting in the break” someone said.
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RIP Wouter Weylandt

Although David Millar gained the maglia rosa on today’s Giro d’Italia, it paled into insignificance with the news of the death of Wouter Weylandt of Team Leopard Trek.

Wouter Weylandt

Millar’s pink jersey would normally be something I’d do a wee post on, but there will be no celebration… the podium ceremonies were cancelled and Leopard Trek and the peloton at large will be trying to think of the most appropriate way to honour the fallen rider on stage 4 on Tuesday.
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New cycling books 2: David Millar’s autobiography

Two new cycling books are due to be published, both with a Scottish connection: David Millar’s autobiography and Richard Moore’s exploration of the 1986 Tour.

Millar’s book will be published between the Giro and the Tour, entitled Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar. According to a French magazine article Millar at one point said the book was hampering his winter training miles, blaming the concentration required to write. He said it brought out the perfectionist in him and ended up focussing a lot of his efforts on writing. He missed the cobbled classics after illness set his form back, so it’s not clear to what extent the writing affected his form- but I’d expect this to be covered in press interviews for the book.
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David Millar Delhi 2010 TT gold

Cracking image of David Millar in Scotland colours, riding to time trial gold at Delhi 2010. He may be something of an adopted Scot but he certainly flies the flag for us and seems proud do do so. How many other top pros do you see turning out for the Commonwealth Games?

The image is © – Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac. This shouldn’t be reproduced without proper licensing but I try to skirt around it by doing a screenshot of the site and linking back so you can click through to view the full size for yourself.

The original was found on Zimbio– there are several more of him there, both on the podium and out on the course., 128 David Millar images on Zimbio last time I checked. That should be more than enough for any professional media outlet or publisher looking for quality shots of him.

There hasn’t been much news about Millar so far this season- last year he was prominent on GC in Paris-Nice for several days, but this year he has pulled out ill. I read that he was targeting certain classics, particularly the Tour of Flanders, after last year’s strong showing.

Scotland men’s road team help Millar to bronze

David Millar won the first ever medal for Scotland in a Commonwealth road race at the weekend. cyclingnews has the post race quotes and add their own comment, as does the Scotsman and other outlets.

David Millar wins bronze, via cyclingnews

Millar, although born in Malta, and raised in Hong Kong, Scotland and England, declares himself proud of his heritage and was delighted when Scottish Cycling asked him to compete. Following a 2-year suspension some years ago, you’ll still find a broad and robust range of opinions on him on any forum or social media.

He had a good early season with a win in Three days of De Panne (overall), a strong Tour of Flanders and Criterium de Dauphiné, but there then followed a difficult Giro and Tour de France. He has come good again in the late season with silver at the Worlds TT, bronze in the Commonwealth Games road race and another chance for a medal in the TT. But individual glory aside, I feel recognition should go to the Scotland team, who worked hard for him to earn the Commonwealth bronze.

Millar was well supported with a full complement of six Team Scotland riders in the race, and he paid tribute at the finish to the work done by his teammates. In the first half of the race it was David Lines, James McCallum and Ross Creber, while Evan Oliphant and Andy Fenn were the riders assigned to support him – and be in the mix themselves – in the second half of a 168km race run off in 41-degree heat.

“I really enjoyed racing with this jersey and with this team,” said Millar. “Three of the boys were looking after me in the first half of the race, and it was Evan and Andy’s job to follow the attacks when they started coming in the second half.

“They all excelled – they were as good as my pro team. They were all very motivated and I think motivation has a big effect. I wouldn’t have got the medal without them and I’m proud of them all.

I raised an eyebrow at the ‘pro team’ comment- I believe (although I may be wrong) that Oliphant and McCallum are full-time professionals, both being experienced domestic riders of some years. Maybe he said ProTour Team and was misquoted. Nonetheless, some of the other riders are amateurs and it was a heroic performance to bury themselves in the heat of Delhi.

HATS OFF TEAM SCOTLAND
Ross Creber
Davie Lines
Andy Fenn
James McCallum
David Millar
Evan Oliphant

Congrats David Millar

Congratulations to David Millar, winning silver in the individual time trial for Team GB in Australia. Next up, a Scotland-England face-off against England’s Bradley Wiggins at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Looking forward to it!

The pic is part of a series by top international news agency reuters and the Italian photographer Sirotti, featured on the highly recommended website steephill.tv. Click the image to see the full series of pics, excellent as usual, which of course also show four-time winner Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland.

David Millar 2010 worlds silver

David Millar’s ‘Bat Wing’ skinsuit

I’m not hugely into time trialling but this item, heard on the Joe Beer podcast, and about Scotland’s top pro racer was interesting. I also hadn’t heard or seen it anywhere else so thought it was worth posting.

At about 55:50 on this podcast, coach Joe Beer talks about ‘aero going bonkers’ at the 2010 Tour de France. Items included Lance Armstrong’s ‘burner’ rear mech and Dave Millar’s ‘Batsuit’. Co-host Martin Crocker commented that his wife noticed that Dave Millar seemingly hadn’t pulled his skinsuit on correctly. In fact it was a special cut to create a smoother line between the body and the arm area.

57 David Millar - Garmin
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