David Millar and the Tour de France: A special interview
The first episode of The Telegraph Cycling Podcast supported by Jaguar features an extended interview with David Millar, who is set to ride his final Tour de France this summer.
Millar, who turned professional in 1997 at the age of 19, rode through the most turbulent generation in cycling history. In 1998 the Festina doping scandal exposed the sport’s dark heart. Six years later, Millar was revealed to have succumbed to the needle and served a two-year suspension. When he returned, he did so as an advocate for anti-doping. He won a stage of the 2006 Vuelta a Espana and declared that he had done so ‘on bread and water’.
As he prepared to ride his 13th Tour, Millar sat down with Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe to record this special episode of The Telegraph Cycling Podcast, supported by Jaguar.
SOUNDBITES: HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE INTERVIEW
On seeing the Tour for the first time in southern England in 1994
‘I stood waiting for six hours in Brighton and Chris Boardman made it. Everyone critiqued him for being a time triallist, but he rode with panache that day.’
On winning the opening stage on his Tour debut in 2000
‘I remember Lance [Armstrong] came in – I beat him by two seconds – and all the sangfroid I’d had and the coolness, and the confidence, disappeared, and I broke down like a baby… the most emotional moment I’ve had as a cyclist.’
On one of his first mentors, Cyrille Guimard
‘I wouldn’t hear a bad word said about Guimard. If he came into the sport now he’d be again a genius. All his tactics, his ways of training, were all compromised by the EPO era… His great ideas of altitude training and equipment and being tactical in races were destroyed when people came in with motorbike engines.
‘Guimard hated the fact that EPO had become so prevalent. He said, “You’re still a kid. Do the Tour de France when you’re 23. Don’t think about doing EPO until you’re older…”’
On the best team leader he’s ridden for
‘Cav. By far. Mark Cavendish. Cav because he kind of builds the team up outside of the team environment, outside of the race, he nurtures the group, he gives a raison d’être to the whole experience, he shares the joy of success, the despondency of defeat.’
On the best rider he’s ever raced against
‘I’ve never seen anything like Peter Sagan in my whole career. From the 2010 Paris-Nice, it was, like, “who the hell is this guy?” It’s the fact that he’s got that physical ability, the tactical savoir faire, and his bike handling is off the grid. In the pro peloton we’ve never seen anyone like him.’
On riding the Tour for the final time
‘I’m looking forward to it. Doing my last Tour de France, knowing it’s my last Tour de France, and just revelling in the whole experience of just being there and knowing this is the end.’