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"I love these races, but I just started them a little bit late. Everyone's very pumped and nobody’s ever calculating: it’s just kind of flat-out craziness, so it’s a nice contrast to what I do normally,"...

Photo: Sirotti




05.03.2014 @ 10:03 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

The main objectives of David Millar in his untimate year as a professional cyclist were very well defined before the 2014 season has kicked off, with the 37-year old Briton aiming to leave his final marks in the Tour the France starting in Leeds and the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow. Before it happens, however, the experienced Garmin-Sharp rider will hit the cobbles of northern Europe for the last time and confessed he has missed out on a chance to fully use his potential in Flemish clasics throughout his long career.


Millar participated in the opening events of the Belgian cycling season last weekend, as he rode in the supporting capacity to his younger Germin-Sharp leaders for cobbled classics. I may come as a surprise, however, that it was the only second appearance in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for the 37-year old Briton after he rode the season’s opener thirteen years earlier in the Cofidis outfit, and even more surprisingly, he used his genuine last chance as a professional cyclist to debut in the Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne in the following day, even though he didn’t manage to finish the hectic race.


Reflecting on his distant memories from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Omloop Het Volk) 1997 edition, Millar acknowledges missed opportunities to shine in cobbled classics throughout his career as he found them highly suitable to his characteristics right from the start.


"The sport was different then. I was a pretty fragile 19, 20-year-old. I did Het Volk my first year but you're racing against Museeuw and guys like that," Millar told Cyclingnews.


"Although in hindsight, if I was starting my career now, I'd be brilliant for these races because I tick all the boxes for them. I kind of missed that window when I was younger and I went in more in to time trials, stage racing and things like that."


Not sooner than in 2010, as a Garmin-Sharp rider, Millar successfully returned to racing on cobbles, winning the Three Days De Panne and performing strongly at the Tour of Flanders. However, the British rider claims he has no regrets that he’s never been provided with a greater chances to excel on pave in his long professional career divided by serving a doping ban, as he treats them rather as a refreshing experience to typical stage-racing.


"I love these races, but I just started them a little bit late," he said.


"Still, there's no regrets. I love coming and helping the team in these races because it’s just such an aggressive type of racing, completely different to stage race riding. Everyone's very pumped and nobody’s ever calculating: it’s just kind of flat-out craziness, so it’s a nice contrast to what I do normally."


After participating in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne in the opening weekend, Millar has now Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wavelgem and Ronde van Vlaanderen on his busy schedule, as he is expected to play the role of a strong support to Garmin-Sharp classics specialists.


He expressed a little regret, however, that his American team won’t participate in the Three Days De Panne, as he would love to return to the race he has won in 2010.


"the pro's pro's race," he said, proudly – in 2010, while in 1998, during his first life as a cyclist, he claimed the final time trial ahead of Michele Bartoli.


Even though Germin-Sharp team does not appear as the strongest unit when it comes to Flemish classics, Millar believes that, similarly as Team Sky for instance, their main strength lays in numbers, as they can exploit several different scenarios while having the likes of Johan Vansummeren, Nick Nuyens and newly signed Sebastian Langeveld in their roster.


"We've really got a solid group and it's the first year I've found that everyone is really cohesive," Millar said.


"We've got strength in numbers: Sebastian's been a great addition to the team, Summi [Johan Vansummeren] is in flying form and Nick [Nuyens] will come good when he has to be. We've got those three guys who've all won Classics and are a capable of doing anything. I think we can do well, we just need the stars to align right."



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