MILLAR DETERMINED TO RACE CLEAN
David Millar faced some tough questions in his pre-Tour de France press conference in Strasbourg on Thursday but says he is determined to race clean and be a role model for others.
“I’m now 100% clean and I want to send out a message that you can win races clean. I want people to hear me say that but I know it may take years to be convincing,” Millar said.
“I want my message to be a positive, that I f***ed up, that I cheated. I’ll have to live with what I did but I want to be a flag bearer for cycling.”
Millar has been training hard for more than a year and says he is more disciplined than before his two-year ban for EPO.
I know I’m a better athlete now. I can see it in my numbers, in the power outputs,” he said.
“Now it’s my life, while before it was a hobby I got paid for.”
Millar admitted the first year of his ban was terrible but seeing the Tour on television last year got his life and career back on track.
“I suppose it was part of my punishment. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to understand what you had and what you’ve lost. It was hard but it was necessary,” he said.
“I had one year off the bike and then realised I had a future in the sport. When I saw the Tour on television last year I realised I loved it just like I did when I was 15. That was what made me decide to race again.”
“Knowing I had a chance to ride the Tour this year inspired me to work hard. I need people to believe in me and I’ve been fortunate to have the support from British Cycling, from my family and friends, from the Saunier Duval team and recently from Max Sciandri. They all really convinced me that I could race again.”
Despite the current doping investigations in Spain, Millar is convinced cycling is cleaning its act up.
“Things are moving in the right direction, I know they are,” he said.
“I think what has happened in Spain is fantastic. Getting rid of the organised doping rings and doctors is what is really needed. It’s about getting rid of the beliefs that you have to take drugs.”
“I believe you can do it. In next few years I hope there will be a new generation of riders coming through. There will always be cheaters but maybe in ten years time cycling will be clean.”
Millar is optimistic of riding well in Saturday’s 7.1-km prologue time trial but named CSC’s Davie Zabriskie as favourite to win the stage and pull on the first yellow jersey of the 2006 Tour.