David Millar has confirmed to Cyclingnews that he will represent the Cyclistes Professionnels Associes (CPA) as it works with the UCI to establish an Extreme Weather Protocol to protect riders and avoid making them compete in dangerous weather conditions.
Millar retired at the end of 2014 after racing for 17 years with Cofidis, Saunier Duval and Garmin. He revealed he has yet to ride a bike since his last race but has began to coach former teammate Ryder Hesjedal. He is also writing a second autobiography. His first called Racing through Dark mostly covered his decision to dope and the huge consequences on his life and career. The new book will be called Racer and "will remember the good bits, the fun bits," he said.
Millar has travelled to Paris to attend a key CPA meeting before Paris-Nice. The same meeting will be attended by representatives of the newly formed Association of North American Professional Cyclists (ANAPRC), as professional riders finally start to stand up for their rights as a key stakeholder in the sport. Millar has been asked to represent the CPA in the working group created by the UCI to work on a protocol.
"I'd said I'd never get involved in things like this because when I did stick my neck up as a rider, I got my head cut off. But they approached me and now I'm retired things are different. The sport is also changing and I do think I've got the experience of lots of different situations in the sport. I hope I can help make a difference. I love cycling and want to help it move forward," Millar told Cyclingnews.
Any Extreme Weather Protocol could lead to stages and races being cancelled, with the ANAPRC calling for a 'Plan B' stage if temperatures fall below 3C. But Millar understands that racing in certain conditions is what makes cycling unique. He wants to help find a balance between legendary stages in the rain and snow and rider safety.
"We can't set strict perimeters because cycling is often held in extreme weather, it's also the nature of the sport. It's about finding a way of not putting anyone health at risk," Millar explained. "The problem is that currently in extreme weather conditions, nobody knows what is going on. So if we can have an Extreme Weather Protocol in place, we can allow decision to be made quickly and definitely.
"We need to get the UCI, the race organisers and the AIGCP teams association all together and agree on a protocol together. We need to know who is in charge and who is responsible when extreme weather happens."
Some riders are pushing for a protocol to be ready for this year's Giro d'Italia, to avoid the farcical events of last year's stage on the Stelvio when race organisers attempted to neutralise the racing near the summit, only for eventual winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to go clear on the descent and win the stage. It’s more likely an informal protocol will be agreed for this year’s racing, while the UCI manages the detailed discussions on a final protocol document.
"It's probably going to take a year to sort out but the sooner we start to trial things, the better for everyone," Millar said. "At the moment I think it's very much a blank slate, so I want to canvas people's opinions and gather ideas before sitting down with the UCI. In the long term I think it's good to do things that build relationships between the different parties in the sport. Anything we do together can only be good for the sport."