David Millar is approaching the 2011 season with a sense of calm befitting both a seasoned professional and the locale of 2011 ProTeam Garmin-Cervélo's first official gathering - the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman.
Millar eased into the new season with his first ever trip to the Cayman Islands to take part in Garmin-Cervélo's week-long camp, which wraps up Saturday, December 4. The 33-year-old Scot is coming off of an extended and well deserved period of rest following the conclusion of the 2010 season. Millar closed out the year on quite a high note with a silver medal in the time trial world championship, a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games time trial and a victory plus a new course record in France's Chrono des Nations.
"I suppose I was a little surprised at how good I was at the end [of the season]," Millar told Cyclingnews. "I don't think I've ever felt so good at time trialing and that was very good for morale. I've been doing nothing since, I just took completely off the bike which I kind of needed. It was the first time I've finished so late so good, so I though I should take it easy as long as I can."
The team's Grand Cayman camp is primarily concerned with team bonding opportunities for nearly the entire 2011 roster, including a contingent from the now defunct Cervélo TestTeam featuring riders such as world champion Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler.
"It's been great and a lot of fun," said Millar of his time in the Caymans. "With the new guys obviously we needed to all get together. We didn't do this last year, but I think it's worked out really well, better than we could have expected.
"We have such a relaxed atmosphere as it is and we're embracing that even more now that we're in the Caribbean. I don't think very many teams get to do something like this, it's really quite different. It's not a military or survival camp, but it works in its own way.
"I think it would be great if we could do this every year, although I don't think it would be quite as important as it is this year. It's just good for us to hang out and spend time with each other when we're relaxed and not having to train, you really get to kick back."
Having the reigning world champion on board for 2011 is a "dream scenario", according to Millar. "Thor's a great guy anyway, but to have him as world champion raises the profile of the team even more. We have a good bunch of guys who are a good team, but I think we have the potential next year to be a great team. Three years ago if you said this is what we'd be now you'd say 'Really? I want to sign on the dotted line right now'.
"Thor's consistent, he doesn't really have bad years. He always manages to grab a stage in a Grand Tour somewhere, he won the points jersey at the Tour de France and in the Classics he's just getting better and better. I see no reason why he couldn't be better than he's ever been next year."
Millar had yet to confirm his 2011 race schedule when he spoke to Cyclingnews, but he anticipates having a season similarly structured to the year's.
"I'd like to be good in the Classics again for Flanders, maybe Amstel this time as well," said Millar. "Basically I'd like to follow a similar pattern [as 2010], so peak then and be good for the early part of the year, then take a rest. I don't know if I'm going to do the Giro, but the Tour de France as ever and then the Worlds, to give them a go again."
While Millar hasn't put any kind of definitive endpoint to his career, he's fully appreciative of the opportunity to seek new challenges while he's still on top of his game. "We've seen lately that you can go on into your late 30s and still be racing at the highest level. It's normally the head that goes first, but I'm pretty lucky as having my ban it kind of gave me an appreciation of what life's going to be like after. I'm really going to work hard to be at my best over the next few years, I don't want to waste it."
One such opportunity is a return to the Tour of Flanders next season.
"I loved Flanders this year. I had such a great time there. It was such a shock. It was brilliant, I never thought I'd be at the front in the final.
"That's one of the things that's helped keep it fresh these past few years, trying different things. I'm not going to get stuck doing the same program with the same goals. The Tour's the Tour, the Worlds are the Worlds, but the Classics are kind of a new thing for me."
For each of the previous two seasons Millar has started each of the three Grand Tours, finished two each year, and went deep into the third. With the powerhouse roster Garmin-Cervélo has lined up for 2011, Millar is appreciative that a repeat next year is unlikely.
"With so many riders now I don't think it's necessary. Before we were a little bit imbalanced as a team in that we had a lot of young guys so we had a small, hardcore crew that ended up doing so many races. I enjoyed it, but I think it's quite nice now that I don't have to do that."