By Mark Zalewski
David Millar has a unique role in the new incarnation of the Slipstream Sports cycling team, that of rider and co-owner. When director Jonathan Vaughters announced that Millar was signing with the team, many did not realize that his role would be multi-faceted.
This week was the first global meeting of the new incarnation of the Slipstream team a combined logistics orientation, media launch and casual training camp all rolled into one. One of the opportunities of the camp was to spend time in the low-speed wind tunnel in Fort Collins, which is where I was able to speak with Millar during the ample amounts of down time between runs.
Being part of the Slipstream team, Millar is looking at cycling in a whole new way. As a rider, he is technically taking a step down from the ProTour level. As a new co-owner, he has a new sense of responsibility beyond just being a team captain on the road. All of this is influencing his outlook for the 2008 season, starting at the launch this week in Boulder.
"This year has been a start-up year for us, if you like," said Millar. "So there has been a lot more off the bike stuff for me. Part of the reason for coming in as a part owner with JV [Vaughters] and Doug [Ellis], all the way back in March, is because I have such a passion for the sport more than just as a cyclist. I know there is going to be more expected of me but that is some of the reason behind becoming part owner."
The time and effort leading up to the Boulder meeting has been a lot of work, but all signs are indicating that the work has paid off. "Now the hardest part is really behind us, of having to be a start-up. Beth [Seliga] and the other behind-the-scenes staff have set-up this team in such a great way... I've never, ever seen it so organized before. It is just phenomenal! Everything down to the little things like every rider receiving a Blackberry with all of the vital numbers transferred across and the schedules for the whole week down to the hour already loaded on there."
But Millar said it is more than just an attention to detail it is a whole new paradigm for running a team. "It's great to have this level of structure and organization of schedule, but what the means is that all that is left up to us the riders is to follow it without having to worry about anything. That is really rare; cyclists are generally treated as incompetent school boys! People don't think we can be responsible for ourselves and it all becomes very elementary-like. And then that often ends up making it seem okay to not be responsible for ourselves."
"This is one example of us trying to do things slightly different. JV wants us to learn responsibility for each other and hope that transfers across to the racing and gets the most out of us."
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