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David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) at Tirreno-Adriatico in March
Scot looking forward to wearing his national jersey for just the second time
On Thursday morning David Millar will pull on a Scottish team jersey for just the second time in his long career as he looks to defend his Commonwealth Games gold medal in the men's time trial in Glasgow.
The Commonwealth Games represent a seminal moment in Millar's career with the former Tour de France stage winner handed the chance to go out in glory at his home Games. However the 37-year-old heads into the time trial and then Sunday's road race with his form at a slight unknown having not raced since he abandoned the national time trial in June.
He then had the rug pulled from under his feet when his Garmin Sharp team dropped him on the eve of this year's Tour de France. It was a major blow to the Scot but within a matter of days — and after a brief stint of television work was thrown in — he was back on the bike.
"It's gone better than I thought it was going to go four weeks ago. When I found out that I wasn't doing the Tour I thought that it was all going to come crumbling down but it's ended up being really good. I've managed to get myself back in the game, as they say, and I've been training hard for two-and-a-half weeks."
As the Tour wound its way through the Alps, the Pyrenees and on towards Paris, Millar based himself at altitude in Spain, using the Tour situation as motivation to focus on the Games.
"I think it took about ten days," he said when asked how long it took before he managed to find his focus after his Tour omission.
"The television stuff ended up being quite a cathartic way of missing out on the Tour because I was there but not there. I left there and went home and switched myself back into training mode. It was pretty quick and it didn't take me long to be back up and firing."
Last week Millar told Cyclingnews that his only contact with his trade team was via email and that they're had only been a swap of emails in relation to his race programme after the Games. Asked on Wednesday if he now accepted missing out on the Tour, Millar replied, "time heals wounds and I always accept things eventually."
The wound is still open: not enough to fully distract him from the next two events in Glasgow but perhaps enough to help him channel his anger and repeat something close to his performance from Delhi four years ago when he won the time trial and picked up a second medal in the road race.
"I have to keep my head on for the time trial because it's such a cold and calculating event whereas the road race, it won't be such a bad thing to tap into that because it's going to be a pretty crazy road race. I'll probably get carried away with the home crowd. It's a bit of a cliché, but it's a one in a life time experience."
This is just the second time Millar has raced the Games. He has competed at Olympic level for Great Britain but he missed every Commonwealth Games until Delhi four years ago. That can be partly explained by the fact that his road racing career at trade team level was almost always the priority. At his press conference he referred to his team as 'a corporate company' perhaps in a bid to relay the importance of his national ties and patriotism.
"This is one of the biggest events of my life. I'm 37 and this is the end and it's an unexpected way for me to be at the end of my career. It seems a storybook ending," he said.
"I now realise how important this is for me compared to racing for a corporate team. It's pulling on the Scotland jersey and racing for Scotland. It's who I am."
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