Britain's David Millar goes into Sunday's Giro d'Italia opening team time trial in fine spirits after training with his Garmin-Slipstream team-mates in Northern Spain. The 32-year-old Scot formed part of last year's team-winning ride in the opening event, and despite breaking his collarbone at Paris-Nice in March, believes that both he and the team are ready to battle it out at the Giro once again.
"We've had our final training camp in Girona last week and on Saturday we did some short efforts, followed by a race simulation on Sunday," said Millar. "On a personal level, my shoulder has recovered really well. I had almost a month completely off the bike but it's coming along nicely."
However Millar has mixed feelings when it comes to the Giro. The rider was heavily critical of the race organisers last year and lambasted both the long transfers and race profile. "I swore I'd never go back to the Giro," said Millar. "But when we took a step back and had a look at the situation and my condition after the collar break, we decided that it made sense to ride.
"I'm coming in with very low expectations and anything will be better than last year," he added. "It's not how I planned my season but that's the way the cookie crumbles."
Unlike last year, when Garmin went into both the team trial and Giro as underdogs, Millar believes that any added pressure will be balanced out by the team's experience and thorough approach. "Oddly enough it was more stressful for us last year as it was our first Grand Tour," said Millar. "Okay, there were some expectations, but we'd never done a team time trial together. So this year we're going into it with a lot more experience and confidence. So it balances out the expectation."
Backing the clean-up
While preparing for the Giro, Millar also gave his opinions on the delay with the International Cycling Union's (UCI) biological passport programme. For over a year cycling's governing body has been building rider profiles but as yet the programme remains under wraps.
"Like everyone else, we're expecting it but I can understand that, due to the legality, it's taking a long time," he said. "But we're all being tested and profiles are being built up."
Asked if the UCI should be given more time, Millar agreed: "I'd rather that than they rush into it which is what they've done in the past with all guns blazing. At least with the time it's taken it's going to be good. The media seem to know more than the riders do. We know so little."
Millar, who confessed to taking blood booster EPO earlier in his career but has since campaigned for a clean sport, also stressed that riders were doing their share to clean up the sport. "It's difficult for us as riders as the sport is in transition but we've got to believe in the UCI," he said. "We do the testing and just hope that it makes a difference."
Millar was disappointed by last week's announcement that two cyclists had tested positive for CERA at the Olympics. "Rebellin was one of my favourite riders and I wanted to believe in him as well," said Millar. "But again we're catching people and that's the most important thing."