CW’s British performances of 2011: No. 17

Number 17: David Millar wins Giro d’Italia final time trial
Sunday, May 29

It had been an extreme Giro d’Italia for David Millar, who has since declared he will never go back to the race.

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Millar found himself in the pink jersey early in the race, in the most difficult circumstances. While Millar and a small group of riders were contesting the finish to stage three in Rapallo, they were oblivious to the fact that Wouter Weylandt had suffered a terrible crash.

By the time Millar crossed the line, in second place to Angel Vicioso, any thoughts of celebrating taking the pink jersey were banished as the tragic news of Weylandt’s death dawned on the race.

The following day Millar rode in pink with dignity and he issued an eloquent and moving statement on behalf of his team but which spoke for the whole peloton.

The fact Millar became the first British rider to lead all three grand tours became an irrelevance at the time but it is a fine achievement for a rider whose career has experienced great highs and deep lows.

The rest of the Giro was for Millar, as it was for most of the riders, a battle. The mountain stages were ridiculously hard. Angelo Zomegnan, who has since been replaced, aimed for the spectacular but crossed the line into a world of cruelty.

Millar had his eyes on the final time trial in Milan but he knew he had to save every scrap of energy in the final week if he was to have a chance.

And that is what he did. He was at the back of the grupetto at Sestrieres on the race’s penultimate day.

The final time trial was close but he produced a super ride to beat Alex Rasmussen by just seven seconds to become the first British rider since Robert Millar to win stages of the Tour, Vuelta and Giro.

Related links

Cycling Weekly’s British performances of 2011 advent calendar