Scot David Millar is looking forward to a strong ride in the Tour de France after a ninth place in the Dauphiné Libéré. He had mixed results in the 2008 Tour, but this time round his hopes have risen.
"I'm pleasantly surprised by how things went in the Dauphiné," Millar told Cyclingnews on Saturday. "I haven't climbed like that in years, and my recovery was also very good. It really doesn't compare to anything in the last couple of seasons, it's a result I would associate more with the performances of over four years ago."
By his own admission, Millar has been prone at times to over-training. Purely (and literally) by accident, he appears to have worked out a better balance now.
"Last time round, I was exhausted in the last two weeks"
"My build-up changed mainly due to breaking my collarbone [on stage eight of Paris-Nice]," the 32-year-old explained. "Because of the complex break and I had to keep the arm immobile for four weeks. This was how long I had off the bike, so I was only on the bike for three weeks before the Giro and came into it very fresh and under-trained.
It worked out well for Millar. He progressed as the race travelled towards Rome, although he chose to withdraw on stage 15.
"I was confident to take it easy and not test myself too much, but instead concentrate on losing weight and avoid incurring too much fatigue. I came off the Giro and decided I would tackle the Dauphiné in the same manner by arriving fresh and rested and even lighter.
"My weight is now less than it's been these last two years. This is probably one of the biggest advantages I've gained, but my confidence to rest and arrive at the races fresh is probably just as big a benefit."
Millar is due to ride the British national road race championships, which he won in 2007. He'll then head to the Tour de France, July 4 to 26, to support his teammates. The Garmin-Slipstream team is banking classification leader Christian Vande Velde being back in shape by the time the Tour gets serious though he fractured several bones in the Giro d'Italia.
"Christian remains our leader 100%," Millar said, putting his faith in the 33-year-old American. "Last year, he showed he is a true podium contender. Being able to help him has been one of my main objectives this season. Last time round, I was exhausted in the last two weeks and could do very little for him... that was incredibly frustrating."
Depending on how things develop, he may be able to chase a personal result too. He would like to win his first stage since 2003.
"I will just take the race day by day and, when the opportunity arises, I'll take it."