David Millar rolled back to the Garmin team bus after his ride in the Tour de France stage four time trial and went straight to check on the times of his biggest rivals.

The British time trial champion set a time of 36-02 for the 29.5km course. He beat Fabian Cancellara (CSC) by 15 seconds and Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) by nine seconds and set the same time as Kim Kirchen (Columbia).

Only Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) managed to beat him by 18 seconds and that also gave the German the yellow jersey. Schumacher leads Millar and Kirchen by 12 seconds, with the Columbia rider second on the overall standings due to his better stage placings so far in the Tour.

Millar was not smiling when he came off the Garmin team bus to warm down but was satisfied with his ride and ready to fight for the yellow jersey in the days to come.

?I?m pleased with my ride. I felt good and everything went perfect, I?m really pleased,” Millar told Cycling Weekly.

?I was 100% but I can accept the result because I was beaten by a better rider. I?ve worked very hard for this and I didn?t want to mess it up, so it was nice to feel that all the work I?ve done has paid off.?

Millar had hoped to ride a good time trial and so set up an assault on the yellow jersey on the first mountain finish at Super-Besse on Thursday in the Massif Central. The yellow jersey is still within grasp but Millar knows that Kirchen and Evans could also fight for it on the climb up to Super-Besse.

?Kirchen is in the way a little bit, Cadel?s right up there as well, so it?s going to be a good race, it?s exciting, anything can happen,? Millar said.

?I?m climbing really well at the moment, so it?s going to make it interesting. That?s going to be my next physical challenge. We?ll see what happens in the days ahead but I think I?m going to be better than anyone has ever seen me before.?

MILLAR: “IT?S TAKEN ME TWO YEARS TO GET BACK”

Millar?s performance in the time trial was probably his best since he returned after his two-year ban for doping and he admitted he feels he is back to his physical best.

?I was two years away and I think it?s taken two years to get back. I feel that I?m back on top of it now,? he revealed.

?I?ve got my confidence back and I had the confidence of the people around me to take the Giro easy and not worry about not doing well. I?ve been trying too hard in the other races and over stretching myself.?

?Now I?m back having the confidence to pinpoint objectives and sacrifices other races for them. That?s because I?ve got Jonathan [Vaughters, team manager], Matt White and Adrian my coach, who are giving me that confidence.?

?This is the most I?ve ever enjoyed cycling. I?ve helped build this team and so obviously I?m very happy because it reflects my personality.?

MILLAR’S PREPARATION PAID OFF

Millar checkout the time trial course last Tuesday before travelling to Brest for the start of the Tour de France. He was glad he did because the wind and rolling roads made it a very technical test.

?It was a good course, there was a bit of everything, it was the wind that made the difference,? Millar explained.

?It was a block headwind on the way out and then a tailwind on the way back. It was a very physical course, it wasn?t a classic time trial course. You were on and off, on and off, and had to ease up in other sections. It was quite technical.?

?Against the head wind I was just trying to make myself as small as possible. We?ve got the advantage of probably having the best equipment. We?ve done so much by looking into all the details and now it?s nice to get the advantage. The rest was down to me.?

Millar?s team mates Christian Vande Velde and Danny Pate also did excellent rides, finishing eighth and 14th. Garmin also kept their lead in the team classification ahead of US rivals Columbia.

The two teams will now battle it out for the yellow jersey in Super-Besse.

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead

Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break

Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint

Stage one: Valverde wins

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS

Cavendish disappointed with stage two result

Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey

Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?

Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec

Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win

Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS

Stage four

Stage three

Stage two

Stage one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

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