After three hectic days on the island of Corsica the Tour de France caravan hits the mainland of France in Nice for the team time trial, and with 71 riders within a single second of Jan Bakelants' yellow jersey, many teams are eager to grab the race lead. The Garmin-Sharp team is one of the top favourites to win the 25km long team effort in the French coastal town, and if they do, then David Millar, currently seventh overall, will likely be the man to take over the maillot jaune.
If Millar can seize the race lead, it would be the second time in his career that he's worn the jersey. In 2000, he won the Futuroscope prologue and kept the yellow jersey for four days. Since then, the closest he's come was in 2010 with a third place in the prologue in Rotterdam. Millar was also part of the Garmin outfit when it won the team time trial in the 2011 Tour de France in Les Essarts and then-teammate Thor Hushovd grabbed the race lead.
During the ever-twisting stage from Ajaccio to Calvi today the Scotsman rode an anonymous stage, as did most of the favourites, each saving their energy for tomorrow. "I felt good today. That's a good sign," Millar said. "I'm feeling really good. The team seems to be flying. If we transfer that into the race tomorrow then we'll be going at a very high speed. We know what we're doing. It's not a new discipline to us," Millar said.
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters was pleased with the team performance in Corsica's third stage. "The guys were great today. Dave climbed well and we had six guys in the front group and the three guys who were only not there because they worked their asses off to keep those other six guys in position. No complaints there," Vaughters said. He knows the yellow jersey is there to be taken if his riders win the team time trial in Nice. "It's still there, the yellow jersey is still in reach."
When asked what result Millar had in mind for the team time trial he said, "to be honest, top three."
A second or a third place might not be good enough for the yellow jersey, explained team manager Vaughters. "The gaps will be bigger than one second," Vaughters said. "Whoever wins the stage tomorrow takes the jersey. RadioShack is one of the six potential victors in the time trial. If they win they'll keep it, if we win we'll take it. I doubt if it will come down to one second. It will be tight. Winner to second place will be less than five seconds, definitely less than ten seconds."
Vaughters denied that the possibility of Millar taking yellow will add extra pressure on the shoulders of his nine riders. "Our guys are out to win the stage and so it would have been and will be stressful anyway. I would imagine RadioShack riding a little bit over their head because they have the yellow jersey, but there are five or six teams that could take it."