David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) again finished off the back of the peloton in Gap but described the stage as a cakewalk compared to his lone battle over the Col de la Madeleine and against the time limit on Tuesday. Millar finished 177th, 16:27 behind Sergio Paulinho but was smiling again. His ribs are still painful and affect his breathing but he now hopes to make it Paris and even target the time trial stage to Bordeaux.
"Compared to yesterday it was a cakewalk. I never went to the doctor’s car. No trouble. I felt ok, I took some painkillers today," he said.
"I’ve got industrial strapping all over me but it was a much less difficult stage. It was perfect for me, where as it was just too hard yesterday. Now I just hope next few days will be ok for me."
Millar revealed that the only time he has quit the Tour de France was in 2001 when he climbed off on the slopes of the Col de la Madeleine. Yesterday his memories of that moment pushed him onwards, despite being 30 minutes behind the race at the foot of the 25km climb.
"I was on my own for six hours during the stage and had a lot of time to think about how I'd feel if I packed. I couldn't face seeing the other guys on the team bus," he said. "But it was surreal. I really thought I was out of the race. I was 30 minutes down with 80km to go. By the time I got to the finish, I didn’t know if I’d made the time cut — all I knew was that I’d finished. And at the Tour, it’s about finishing."
“I broke the Madeleine up into five-kilometre climbs and kept thinking — I have to get through this. I felt guilty for making the people along the road wait for me. But they were brilliant, they were cheering and telling me not to give up, and that made a huge difference for me."
"I got a second wind going up the Madeleine and then went like a lunatic from the Madeleine to the finish. I ignored the pain and that's way I'm so messed up today. I smashed myself."
Millar explained that his pain is spreading from his ribs: "It's the intercostals, they're all ripped. That has put pressure on the left side of my back and I'm over compensating on my left inner thigh and that's all ripped now too. I've lost all my left side effectively."
"I can't go hard enough to go over 400 watts and my body falls to pieces above that. But the race isn't hard till we're at 500 watts."
Despite the pain, Millar hopes to carry on. "It's not a break that will get worse and cause long term damage. When I was in my aero position I felt ok, it’s out of the saddle that hurts," he said.
"If I can suffer through it and then get through the Pyrenees, I can perhaps make it to Paris and even have a go in the final TT. After
yesterday anything else will seem easy."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.