David Millar had nowhere to hide after he crossed the finish line of the Tour de Francestage 4 team time trial in Nice. With Garmin-Sharp finishing slower than earlier starters Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Millar knew his chance of stage victory and the yellow jersey were gone. They had proven too far to reach, despite being just a second away from his grasp.
Garmin-Sharp eventually finished sixth in the team time trial, 17 seconds slower than winners Orica-GreenEdge.
Millar is the team captain at Garmin-Sharp and blamed himself for missing out on the yellow jersey and defended the performance of his teammates.
"The ride went fantastic, the team were incredible but I was perhaps the one who let the team down because I wasn't on a good day," he said as his heart rate and breath gradually recovered from an intense effort.
"It's disappointing but we didn't make any mistakes and so we can’t beat ourselves up. We know we're one of the strongest teams but this is the Tour de France, every team is incredibly strong. It's disappointing but that's racing. We were fair and square beaten."
It's an excruciating event
Garmin rode a well-drilled team time trial, finishing together. They were fourth fastest to the 13km intermediate time split, only four seconds slower than Orica-GreenEdge and Omega Pharma-Quick Step. They lost 13 seconds to Orica-GreenEdge in the final 12km and slipped to sixth fastest at the finish.
"We thought we'd pull it back because we do a controlled ride. We hoped the others team hit out too hard and would fade. But the others rode well, too, and went faster," Millar said.
"Sometimes flat course are more testing than hilly ones. You don’t get blown out and you’re always just over limit, so it's an excruciating event."
Millar had been chasing the yellow jersey since finishing fourth on Saturday's opening stage to Bastia. He finished one second behind Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Leopard) on Sunday's stage to Ajaccio, leaving a chance of pulling on yellow for a second time in his career close but just out of reach. Back in 2000 he won the prologue time trial and wore yellow for three stages.
He is now 13th in the overall classification, 17 seconds behind new race leader and stage three winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).
"I think my best opportunity to take the yellow jersey was on Sunday and it was missed," Millar admitted.
"But you've got pick up and carry on. We came to this Tour with a lot of different objectives; this was one. We haven’t got it, we went close on Sunday, but there's still two and half weeks of racing to go, there's still a lot to go for."