So what happened to Dave? was the question many British fans were asking themselves after David Millar came close at Super-Besse but then fell back to 51 seconds in 39th place behind the final metres.
?I just didn?t have the legs,? Millar told Cycling Weekly on Friday morning. ?I was disappointed ?cos I was feeling good, I?m not feeling sick or anything but sometimes that happens.?
?Normally I go well up those sort of steady climbs, but sometimes it just doesn?t work out.?
?He did really well,? Millar?s team manager Jonathan Vaughters told Cycling Weekly. ?He?s fine, he?s not ill, the finish was maybe a little bit harder than we thought it would be, that?s all.?
Referring to Millar?s plans to take the yellow jersey, Vaughters said ?I?m always a big optimistic about their chances, but if you look at it historically, that was a very good ride for Dave.?
The Scot got up the steepest part of the climb, with 1.5 kilometres to go, but then fell off the pace in the final 400 metres.
?He?s fifth overall but other than when he won the jersey in 2000, when has Dave been fifth overall after a mountain stage?? Vaughters pointed out.
The tactic with sending Millar?s team-mate Christian Vandevelde up the road with Leonardo Piepoli of Saunier Duval was not a softening up strategy for the Scot, Vaughters said.
?Christian just doesn?t have that acceleration in the final metres so we knew that if he was going to have a chance, he would have to go from far out and hope there was some hesitation behind.?
?With Dave, the idea was more to see if he could hide and hide until 400 metres to go. We played both tactics as we could, it?s just that neither worked out.?
What put the spanner in the works, according to Vaughters, was Caisse d?Epargne?s hard work behind. ?If it had been left to Columbia, I don?t think they could have brought it all back.?
?I don?t understand what happened with Caisse really, why they worked so hard when Valverde had said he wasn?t feeling great.?
As for today?s lumpy stage, Millar predicted it will be ?carnage, because Columbia [who lead the race] can?t really control it. Or at the very least it?s going to be mega-hard for them.?
?They?ve got five guys who could get dropped on the first climb – [Marcus] Burghardt, [Gerald] Ciolek…. A lot of teams are going to know that.?
Millar, ultimately, was philosophical about his near-miss. ?I came close, but there?s still two weeks to go. A lot can happen.?
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