Millar gunning for De Panne overall

Breakaway sets Garmin-Transitions rider up for final time trial

David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) won the final time trial in the three days of De Panne twelve years ago, but this year he's hoping to do more than that - he wants the overall title.

The Scot finished seventh in today's first stage, thirteen seconds down on winner Steve Chainel, but with two stages - one of which is a time trial - to come he looks in good shape to secure his ambitions.

"I hope we get through tomorrow well and then I want to win the GC," he said after today's finish in Oudenaarde, Belgium.

Millar joined a group of ten riders earlier in the stage and looked strong on the day's testing climbs. The group were reduced to seven on the Berendries with 38km to go, but Millar sat on Daniel Bennati's (Liquigas) wheel as he set a strong pace on the Valkenberg five kilometres later.

"It was relentless. We went from kilometre zero and it was racing in the cross winds and we didn't stop once. It's very rare that we do that in bike racing. It was an extremely hard day," Millar said.

Millar also made the final selection on the Kruisberg, 16km from the finish, showing that he still had the form he used to such good effect at the Criterium International, where he won the time trial.

"I was very intelligent today. Sometimes when I feel good I get too carried away but I was very calculating today. I really want to win and I used my head. I attacked once and that was it."

Millar and his team will need to switch into a far more defensive mode for tomorrow's stage if he is follow through on an overall win. He'll also need to recover from today's efforts and said at the finish that he was feeling tired from recent racing.

"I was feeling a little tired still from Crit which was probably a good thing as it forced me to ride intelligently and conservatively meaning I was still able to race hard in the final when everybody else was on the hands and knees. Now we have a lot of defending to do till Thursday afternoon!"

Team director Matt White added that the team arrived in De Panne with two clear goals: stage wins for Tyler Farrar and the overall for Millar. Tomorrow's stage typically comes down to a sprint.

"This race is typically decided on two stages: today and then the TT," said White. "All went well with Dave riding a brilliant final and putting himself in an optimal position going into day two."

In 1998 Millar beat Michele Bartoli (retired) and Servais Knaven (Milram) in the final time trial. "I was a baby," he joked. "It's hard to remember that. It was such a long time ago but it's taken me twelve years to come back and try and win."

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