David Millar will climb the Col d’Aubisque today at the Tour de France, look out over the heads of the supporters and squint in search of Paris’ Eiffel Tower. The icon marks a goal for him, the finish of a rough ride.
“If I can get to Paris and see the Eiffel tower,” he said yesterday, “that will be amazing.”
Millar and his Garmin-Transitions team have been kicked around by this Tour de France. Stage one to Brussels was a difficult day for team-mate Tyler Farrar, who was held up in crashes before he was able to have a chance at a sprint win.
The true black day, though, came one day later on the wet, oily roads to Spa.
Millar, Farrar, Julian Dean and team leader Christian Vande Velde all slid and crashed. Vande Velde abandoned the race that night, Farrar soldiered on until his wrist fracture became too much to handle and Millar nearly cracked on Tuesday to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
He survived, though on the razor’s edge between time-cut and physical breakdown. Stepping out of the team bus this morning, half-dressed and five days into a beard, he thought about the race’s end in one week in Paris.
Ryder Hesjedal’s ride to a possible top ten overall, he explained, helped keep a smile on his face.
“The only thing that remains for me is Paris,” Millar continued.
“The time trial is a bonus. If I can get over these injuries, I have a genuine chance to be up there, but I am facing some of the hardest days to come.”
Millar keeps realistic about his chances for the time trial because he knows that the classification riders are typically strong due to their ability to recover day to day. He thinks more about winning at the Vuelta a España, World Championships and Commonwealth Games.
“I don’t like being just a number, hanging on for dear life and just being in the gruppetto – which is very often lately. That’s not why I do this. I really want to go to the Vuelta to race hard, that’s what I love doing.”
The Vuelta a España features a 46-kilometre time trial in Peñafiel in its last week. Millar will be up for the task, gaining confidence from his winning ride at the Four Days of De Panne this spring and his Vuelta time trial win last year.
First, though, he is searching for Paris’ Eiffel Tower.
Millar: hopes for top placing in final time trial
Tour de France 2010: Latest news
Wiggins at 2010 Tour: “I haven’t got it”
Basso wins Tour’s acceptance; podium spot next goal
Contador versus Schleck: A game of seconds
Can Cav win without Renshaw?
Hesjedal pushing his way to the Tour’s top
Renshaw disqualification overshadows Cavendish’s win
Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour
Did Armstrong own a stake in Tailwind Sports, or not?
Cavendish in a ‘must win’ situation for Tour’s green jersey
Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut
Roche alongside Tour’s top men ahead of Pyrenees
Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?
Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain
Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
Stage 14: Riblon hangs on in Pyrenees to give France fourth stage win
Stage 13: Vino returns to top of Tour after doping ban
Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks
Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour
Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race
Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day
Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head
Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour’s white
Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up
Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour
Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims
Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC
Stage three live coverage: As it happened
Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa
Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters
Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win
Tour de France 2010: Photos
Stage 15 photo gallery
Stage 14 photo gallery
Stage 13 photo gallery
Stage 12 photo gallery
Stage 11 photo gallery
Stage 10 photo gallery
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Tour 2010 wallpaper
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one gallery
Prologue photo gallery
Tour de France 2010: Videos
Stage 15 video highlights
Stage 14 video highlights
Stage 13 video highlights
Stage 12 video highlights
Stage 11 video highlights
Stage 10 video highlights
Stage nine video highlights
Stage eight video highlights
Stage seven video highlights
Stage six video highlights
Stage five video highlights
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Prologue video highlights
Tour de France 2010: Race guide
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
Official start list, with race numbers
Brits at the Tour 2010
Tout team guide
Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins