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David Millar (Garmin - Transitions) at the finish.
Race lead within reach but Grivko a tough obstacle
David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) heads into the final day of the Three Days of De Panne with a strong chance for the overall victory. The Scot sits in fourth place, 12 seconds down, with Andry Grivko (Astana) second overall and his most dangerous challenger.
Luca Paolini (Acqua e Sapone) leads the race but with two stages - one of which is a time trial - to come, many expect his challenge to wilt during the 14.75km test against the clock.
Those expecting Millar to ease into the lead in the final stage time trial need only to look at last month's Paris-Nice, however. Over an eight kilometre prologue Millar only put five seconds into the Ukrainian.
"I'm confident but it's nothing that can be taken for granted," said Garmin-Transitions' Jonathan Vaughters. "Grivko is a tough competitor and a good time trialist. You can see that in the results from Paris-Nice. Mind you, David is riding much better than he was there."
Millar's bid for the race overall began on stage one when he was instrumental in a group that broke from the peloton with around 100km remaining. He was part of a final group that finished ahead of the bunch, although Millar lost three seconds to stage winner Steve Chainel (BBox Bouygues Telecom).
That time could be crucial, but during stage two Millar rode a strong race, with his Garmin-Transitions team on the defensive.
A group containing Grivko attacked after 24km and in conditions reminiscent of Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, stayed clear of a chase group led by Millar.
"I finished super cold and soaked through but just about closed the final few seconds Grivko had," Millar explained. "Now to get through the morning stage and in the TT beat Grivko... this is far from a given as he is a talented time triallist. Fingers crossed."
"I expected the worst when I signed up to do De Panne, but today even exceeded my expectations," he continued. "Gale force winds and rain made it nothing less than an epic day out in Belgium.
"I felt good; it was touch and go with such a solid, strong group so far up the road, but the team rode fantastically, with all of us making it into the selection post the Kemmel."
Millar won the final stage time trial in De Panne 12 years ago, edging out the now-retired Michele Bartoli. Millar will ride the Tour of Flanders as well as Paris-Roubaix this spring.