By Gregor Brown in Milano
Scot David Millar of Team Slipstream closed his first Giro d'Italia and is looking forward to the Tour de France. Training camps and the Great Britain national championships will fill the 31 year-old's time before the French Grand Tour, running July 5 to 27.
"I am really tired – just like everyone," he noted to Cyclingnews on Milano's Via Palestro after posting a time of 33'27" in the race ending time trial. "To be honest, I did not really expect to get a good result judging by my performance last week. I wanted to go 100 percent and that is all I can do at 100 percent at the moment."
Millar was key to the American team's winning team time trial on the race's opening day in Palermo. The victory put Christian Vande Velde in the race leader's maglia rosa, which he held for one day. Millar had his go in stage five to Contursi Terme, but a broken chain at just over one kilometre remaining put paid to his chances.
"I came into this race not at 100 percent. There was no way... My opportunities were in that first week. We won the team time trial, which was great and took all the pressure off. I had bad luck in stage five and then on in, I switched off and looked towards the Tour."
Millar was the team's hope for the final time trial, but instead it was American Danny Pate who scored the top finish for Slipstream in sixth - a feat which earned him a new moniker. "We've christened him 'Dan' ... he has aged so much in these three weeks we call him 'Dan'," said Millar. He, Pate, Vande Velde and Ryder Hesjedal will head to Switzerland's St. Moritz for a training camp following the Giro d'Italia.
"I am looking forward to having a break now. The four guys that are here, we are going up to St. Moritz tomorrow, go up to altitude for ten days to rest and recover," Millar noted. The city is just over the border from Italy and rests at 1822 metres altitude. "And then we are going to Gerona for a couple of days and then over to the Pyrenees to train over there. Basically, we just have a permanent training camp until the Tour. I will race nationals, but that is it."
In 2007, Millar won both the road race and time trial of his national championships.
Millar's push for the Tour de France has mentally helped him end the demanding three-week Giro d'Italia on a high note. "My head has been in the Tour de France the whole time, which is what is making it possible to go straight from here to altitude and stuff," he observed. "I am exhausted physically, but mentally I am pretty fresh – it is all Tour de France focus. I have managed not to stress myself out and I have very little responsibilities outside of the racing – it has been a good opportunity for me to work physically.
"We are an American team and we don't have all of that media pressure, which is why we chose it as an ideal Tour de France preparation. If this works out well, I can't think of better ways of preparing for the Tour de France. The work load we have done in the last three weeks is one of the hardest work loads I've done in my whole life."