David Millar (Garmin) finished an impressive 11th on the opening stage of the 2008 Tour de France to Plumelec.
Like everybody else, the Scot was unable to stay with stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) but was close to the front on the climb to the line and finished in the same time as Kim Kirchen (Team Columbia), Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval), Cadel Evans (Silence), Frank Schleck (CSC) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank).
They all lost a second to Valverde but riders from 13th place downwards lost a further six seconds. Fabian Cancellara (CSC) – Millar’s biggest rival for the yellow jersey after the stage four time trial – finished 16th and lost six precious seconds, as did Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank).
Millar finished the stage gasping for breath but had little time to recover after being selected for doping control. Under the new rules at this year?s Tour de France, a chaperone has to stay with each rider and so Millar recovered from his effort and then got changed on the Garmin team bus under the watchful eye of a French dope controller.
He grabbed some food before he went to control and talked to Cycling Weekly about his ride.
?It was good, I was feeling pretty good. I managed to follow Cunego and then he gapped me but I enjoyed it,? Millar said.
?It was a pretty hard day, it was relentless. The wind and the fact that it was up and down, that made it so nervous but that?s the Tour de France. It was a big day and I think the average power I put out was pretty high too.?
Millar was impressed by Valverde?s late attack.
?He?s just so good. That finish was perfect for him. It was good to see him take on the race. My hat goes off to him,? Millar said.
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