11:47am Wednesday 27th June 2012
By Mark Edwards
DAVID Millar is a talented road cyclist.
He wore the yellow jersey for a couple of stages in his first Tour De France and he was British national road champion and the national time trial champion in 2007.
However, he is now best known as a drugs cheat and was banned for two years in 2004 after admitting taking banned performance-enhancing drugs.
This candid and gripping memoir traces how such a precocious talent, Millar was racing in France and given a place in top team Cofidis when he was just 18, lost his way and succumbed to the drug- taking culture in this most demanding of sports.
Millar fully admits his doping and doesn’t stint on the details.
It is fascinating to learn on which of his rides he was clean and which were supported by blood-boosting drug EPO.
Now a zealous advocate of keeping the sport clean, he rails against the unspoken pressure to dope and the Fight Club-like protected secrecy among the riders who round on those, such as Millar, who speak out.
Though Millar does not out anyone by name as using illegal drugs, he has no qualms to provide details on those already found guilty.
His campaign can seem a bit rich considering his own lapses, but he does not criticise or blame riders, rather the culture of drug-taking in the sport which makes riders feel they must dope to keep up with everyone else.
Millar has always been a character within the sport and has probably made as many enemies’ as friends.
In the book there are great anecdotes on great riders such as Lance Armstrong, in friendship and on much cooler terms when the reformed Millar started speaking out.
Bradley Wiggins also comes in for some harsh words for his selfish riding style which went against the team ethic of a “domestique” rider such as Millar.
He goes so far as to brand Wiggins’ fourth place in the Tour in 2010 “a fluke”.
Wiggins has the chance to prove him wrong in the next few weeks.
It is also fascinating to read about the Millar’s party boy antics and how he Ricky Hatton-like let himself go during the off season.
On his early races he seemed to be doped up with the less-than-performance-enhancing residue of an all-night boozing session.
This paperback version adds nothing to the first edition released more than six months ago, a disappointment in as much as the last few months have been very busy for Millar and hopes of Millar’s ultimate redemption of a place at the London Olympics is left in the air.
It would be interesting to get his feelings on having his Olympic ban overturned and winning a place in Team GB’s cycling squad.
Still, this is a fascinating read and a must for cycling fans who can’t wait for the next Tour De France to begin.
‘Racing Through The Dark’ by David Millar is published by Orion and is priced £8.99.
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