David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) reached the top again with a Tour de France victory today in Annonay Davezieux. It marks the anniversary of Tom Simpson’s death, and Millar’s first win after a doping ban.
“The anniversary of Tom is going to be something special, because of the rider and person he was,” Garmin-Sharp sports director, Allan Peiper said. “David Millar also had a battle in his life. Him winning a stage at 35 years old just shows what an old warrior he is.”
The stage win at Annonay Davezieux comes 12 years since his first Tour de France stage win and six years after coming back from a doping suspension. It also marks 45 years to the day that Simpson died in the Tour.
Millar returned to cycling after admitting doping in 2004 and serving a suspension. After a stint with Saunier Duval, he helped Jonathan Vaughters ramp up team Slipstream’s presence in Europe. He is now part owner of the team, which won its first Grand Tour this year with Ryder Hesjedal in the Giro d’Italia.
Vaughters began the team as a place for clean riders and to show to the world that winning without drugs is possible. Millar is proud of his team and fails to forget his past.
“I am an ex-doper and I don’t think there’s any point in hiding that,” Millar explained. “The reason I was given a second chance is because I have a duty to not forget where I come from, to remind people of where our sports been. I’m quite representative of our sport, I think. We are in a great place now and the future’s looking very rosy, but I don’t think we should forget the past.”
He failed to give a clear answer when asked about the current doping investigation in the USA, which possibly involves his team-mates, David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde. They, along with Vaughters, reportedly gave testimony in the Lance Armstrong investigation and are said to be facing suspensions.
He was asked what he said to them and how he motivated the team in light of the news.
“Look, we came into this race with Ryder Hesjedal, he won the Giro, won the Giro clean, and our team’s very proud of what we do for our sport,” Millar continued. “We’ve came in five years ago with a mission to help change the sport and to prove to people it can be done differently, with transparency, we’ve professed that we’re clean. I’m proud of our team.”
His win lifted the team’s morale. Besides the investigation news, it lost Hesjedal and Tom Danielson to a crash involving nearly half of the peloton on the sixth stage to Metz.
Millar won the 12th leg from an escape, which whittled itself down to five. He marked most moves in the final four kilometres, including the successful attack of Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) at 2.7km. He waited, pulled and then won in a two-up sprint.
“It’s going to be the cap on his career: Olympic selection, winning a stage in the Tour de France in the twilite of his career….” Peiper continued. “He put a stamp on that long stage. It was no easy stage, this wasn’t a gift.”
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