David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) hopes the advantage he gains in the time trials in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré will be enough for him to target overall victory on the decisive stage to L'Alpe d'Huez.
Millar has ridden the Dauphiné more times than he can remember and made the eight-day race a target early in the season. He rode two weeks of the Giro d'Italia to give him a solid base of form for the summer and hopes to use it in France in both June and July.
"I'm up for it. I'm not exactly sure what I can do after looking at the maps in detail because it's a hard race, but I feel pretty good," Millar told Cyclingnews before traveling to the Alps, where the race will start this Sunday.
"I've recovered after getting ill at the Giro. The first part of the Giro was really tough this year, not just the racing but the weather and the transfers and it got to me. I had some time off to recover but I'm feeling good now."
Millar will target early success in the opening six kilometre-prologue time trial around Evian-les-Bains on the shore of Lake Léman. And then hope to gain as much time as possible in next Wednesday's 49km time trial.
"These days I tend to miss more prologue than I hit but I like the route of this one," he said. "I tend not to go hard enough in the first half of prologues but then hold my speed well. The Dauphiné prologue climbs up above the lake for the first half and so I think it suits me.
"49km is massively long for a time trial these days isn't it?," he commented on the length of the test against the clock held mid-race. "I don't think I've done one that long for a few years. Though long time trials are a bit of tradition in the Dauphiné. I like it because it's got a Cat 3 climb after 15km and then there are 30km of descent and flat roads in the second half.
"I hope to gain at least two minutes on the climbers in the two TT. Of course I'll have to climb well myself on the other stages, but looking at the finishes, I don’t think even the stage to Risoul (stage 4) is that bad, I don’t think I'll they'll break up the race. After the time gaps of the time trials, it'll all come down to the climb of L'Alpe d'Huez."
Millar knows he will have to ride with his head as much as his legs if he wants to limit his losses on L'Alpe d'Huez and have a shot at overall victory.
"I know I've got to ride an intelligent race on L'Alpe d'Huez. Contador and the other guys will be going for it but I've got to make sure I don’t follow their accelerations and go into the red. I've been talking to (Garmin-Transitions directeur sportif) Matt White about it and I'll probably ride with a power metre on my bike to carefully gauge my effort.
"Hopefully I've got enough experience to ride intelligently and not get carried away. In theory, if I gain two minutes on the climbers and ride smart, I've got a chance of getting a result."