David Millar (Scotland) may have finished just over ten minutes behind winner Geraint Thomas (Wales) in the Commonwealth Games road race, but to him the victory was in finishing. On home soil, Millar was riding his final race in Scottish colours. Only 12 men finished the race and it was that thought which helped Millar become one of them.
"It was a matter of pride. When you’re in your national jersey in your own country you don’t stop," said Millar, still caked in the mud of Glasgow’s roads. "Normally I would have probably stopped, even my arms were exhausted, but you can’t stop when you’ve got so many people out there cheering you on in equally as bad conditions. I think they had as bad a time as me."
After missing out on a Tour de France spot in July, Millar had arrived at the Games hoping that he could add some sparkle to his final year of racing. Millar missed out on a medal in the time trial, but had his real hopes pinned on the road race. However, he realised when the attacks began flying that the mission would be to get to the end, rather than take a medal. As the leading group continued to drop like flies, Millar found himself struggling to keep in touch.
"I realised about two thirds in that it wasn’t going to happen, I was just getting weaker and weaker and I think that’s just the lack of racing," Millar explained. "I just can’t replicate the efforts we were doing in training and it just wore me out. Whereas the Tour guys, it’s not that they get stronger they just don’t get tired. When everyone else gets tired, they can just maintain that. So, I didn’t really stand a chance."
Despite not being able to go out with a bang, Millar was able to take joy in the victory of his Great Britain teammate Thomas. "I’m so happy G won. He’s an amazing bike rider and he deserved it. He’s gutsy and he was suffering like a dog in the first half, like most of the guys at the Tour were. Then, like I said, when everyone else started suffering they start to come good."
Rain may have been pounding the streets for much of the race, leaving the roads looking more like rivers than solid ground, but there was still a substantial turnout to see the 139 riders make their way through Glasgow’s streets. "It was amazing," said Millar. "I wish I could have been out there at the front, but I don’t think it really mattered. People still seemed to be loving it. There were moments when it seemed to be apocalyptic weather and it was still five deep with people."