Shane Sutton has said that although people will question the appointment of former professional rider David Millar as a mentor for young British riders, he believes there is “no one better to come into the team and put the guys in the right direction”.
Millar’s appointment was announced on Thursday morning by British Cycling, and was greeted by a mixed response with some questioning his association with developing British riders given he has served a ban for doping. Others say the passing on of his experience of the highs and lows of pro cycling will be of great benefit.
Great Britain cycling team technical director Sutton talked about the appointment in a short video released by British Cycling, saying: “I think people will probably question why we’ve brought Dave in… and we know Dave’s past.
“I don’t think there’s anyone better to come into the team and put the guys in the right direction on an anti-doping stance, given the way he’s reformed himself. He’s one of the leading lights in that direction.
“But that’s not the only reason we’re employing this guy, he’s got major victories in all the major tours.”
This guy has been on the road for a long, long time, he’s been on one of life’s real pro journeys. All those organisation skills as a professional athlete, he opens doors into major events, he knows every race organiser out there… that’s another added bonus of having Dave there.”
“We look at those sort of things and think, that’s the guy we need to do the job.”
Millar was handed a two-year ban for taking EPO in 2004 while riding for Cofidis, and returned to racing for the Saunier Duval–Prodir team in 2006. He then rode for Garmin-Slipstream from 2008 until his retirement in 2014. He is now a leading supporter of clean riding, and his book Racing Through the Dark lifted the lid on the secret life of a professional rider in that era.
During his racing career, Millar won stages of all three Grand Tours, and also wore the leader’s jersey in each.
Millar will work with the GB squad on a voluntary basis until the end of February, when his position will be reviewed, Sutton said. Long-term, he would help to nurture riders through to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.