By his own admission David Millar was initially bitterly disappointed not to be selected by Garmin-Sharp to ride the Tour de France in his final season as a pro. But, having picked himself up and dusted himself down he’s focused on the time trial and Commonwealth Games road race championship.
Seriously though, the Commonwealth Games? “Yes. It’s one of the biggest objectives of the year,” replied Millar, quick as a flash. Seriously, of all the races in your season, the Commonwealth Games events are a big target?
“Yeah, yeah. I mean, I know the road race course, which is amazing. And the time trial is new and we’ve got an all right team actually. It is going to be a great race, it’s going to be good and it will be good open racing, a great race to watch. I hope they get some big screens up around Glasgow so people can watch it.”
Given the scope and length of Millar’s career and the relative global worth of the Commonwealth Games, it was a bit of a shock to hear Millar sound so genuinely enthusiastic about the events, but Millar wasn’t faking his enthusiasm.
“It would only be the second time in my life that I got to ride in a Scottish jersey – and the fact that it’s in Glasgow? Come on! Double bubble! It really is a race I want to do well in,” insisted Millar who finished third in the 2013 National road race held on the Glasgow circuit.
Millar faces a dilemma though, in that he expected to ride the Tour and feel a training benefit at the Games.
His non-selection threw his plans out of the window. Reflecting on the pros and cons of the Tour as a form and fitness generator, Millar observed that it would have been “a given” he would have had form for the road race after the Tour. How did he think the Tour would affect the form of the riders who were coming to Glasgow from Paris, Australians like Mark Renshaw, Luke Durbridge and Simon Clarke and Wales’ Geraint Thomas?
“For the time trial it’s a bit close, it’s going to be touch and go, but for the road race, even if you feel like pants you are going to be strong.” After you come of the Tour, Millar explained, “you basically have about two hours to fight through and then all of a sudden you feel really good. But in the time trial, going up against fresh guys who haven’t ridden the Tour, that’s going to be tough.”
Millar offers a note of caution for those form and race predictors looking to the Tour de France riders. “It’s more that it’s unpredictable how you will feel after the Tour, especially in that first hour of an event. It takes a little while to start feeling good, though you have massive endurance the effect of the Tour, the fatigue overloads you massively and you will be epically strong.
A lot of the time after the Tour you’ll be racing and feel crap for four hours and then the last two hours of a race you can really just rip it. In a short event like a time trial you can’t really tell if you are going to be ‘on’ or not, it’s just so unpredictable. You might actually have the strength of ten men but you don’t honestly feel like you have.”
So there you have it, David Millar’s form guide for the Commonwealth Games time trial and road race. The guys who didn’t race the Tour could be fresher, but the guys who did ride the Tour are going to be stronger in the closing stages of the road race – assuming they can get through the first two hours!
Commonwealth Games 2010, men's time trial: Home nations dominate race against the clock