David Millar admitted he did not expect to finish on the podium in the Circuit de la Sarthe, which finished this afternoon.
The Garmin-Cervelo rider came third overall, just nine seconds behind FDJ’s Anthony Roux, who won the race for the first time.
Despite having missed most of the early season through illness, Millar finished second behind Daniele Bennati in the Wednesday’s 6.8km time trial and narrowly missed out on taking yellow in yesterday’s penultimate stage into Pre-en-Pail.
“I felt my form was good going into it, but I had no expectations whatsoever,” the former British national champion told Cycling Weekly. “But it was good to be back racing, and finishing third was a bonus.”
“Having competed with the top guys that will be good for my confidence,” said Millar. He previously won the race in 2001, and said it was the perfect place to start racing again.
“I’ve got good memories of racing here – it always seems to treat me well. Sometimes it’s better to come back in the slightly smaller events and build up your condition from there.”
Millar was part of the race-winning move that stayed away on stage four, after his team-mate had split the peloton into several groups. “(Dave) Zabriskie attacked and stretched the other teams to their limit.
“It was definitely a case of the strongest riders were all upfront, but I suffered enormously,” continued Millar, who was soon shelled out the front group. “Because it’s not one of the big races I was able to bridge back up to them, and that saved my podium place.”
The race also saw Michael Kreder take his first professional victory for the team, winning a frantic bunch sprint ahead of Bennati. “The whole race was a bonus for everyone at Garmin-Cervelo; I think we all had good fun riding it.”
Millar will ride the Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallone as a domestique, but is looking to take a stage in the Tour of Romandie and the Giro.
After racing in Italy, he will release his autobiography, entitled Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar, which he, unsurprisingly, says he is excited about.
Millar said: “I’m curious to see what response it gets, as it’s a big deal for me. I wanted it to transcend cycling; it’s not just an education on the sport. People think cycling is a case of black or white, when it’s not that at all.
“It’s a beautiful sport and, even despite its problems, it remains a beautiful sport.”
Bennati edges Millar at Circuit de la Sarthe