British Cycling has confirmed that retired pro cyclist David Millar is mentoring riders on its men’s academy programme following its relocation to Italy, to hand down his experience of nearly two decades in the professional peloton. It adds that he may take on an official role from the end of February.
Millar is working “on a voluntary basis” at British Cycling’s newly established facility near Montechiari in Tuscany, but given his doping past, his presence there is likely to prove controversial in some quarters.
That’s an issue that Great Britain Cycling Team technical director Shane Sutton meets head on, saying: “Nurturing an anti-doping culture is at the heart of everything we do at British Cycling and educating our young riders on the subject is a responsibility we take seriously.
“Having someone of David’s calibre on board to support us in this education process is invaluable; he is readily available to share his well-rounded experiences as a professional cyclist to the young riders who aspire to succeed in their careers.”
Millar received a two-year ban in 2004 after police raided his home in Biarritz and discovered two used syringes which he said he had kept as mementoes to remind him not to use EPO, as he subsequently admitted having done while riding for Cofidis.
He was also stripped of the world time trial title he had won in 2003, and says in his 2011 book Racing Through The Dark that during his suspension he sat down with British Cycling and revealed to them the extent of doping inside the professional peloton.
Millar says that helped the governing body put safeguards in place to ensure young riders on its development programme didn’t follow the same route.
On his return to racing, he became a vociferous campaigner against doping and sat on the World Anti Doping Agency’s athlete’s panel.
As a winner of stages in all three Grand Tours – he is one of only two Britons to have worn the leader’s jersey in each of them – and with a tactical awareness that saw him act as road captain when Mark Cavendish won the rainbow jersey in 2011, Sutton says he also has a role to play in helping develop young talent from a sporting aspect.
“In addition to his mentor work, David brings with him a massive amount of training and tactical knowledge which will support the work of the coaches, and he’s become a well-respected figure in cycling which will help us to open doors when it comes to fielding young talent into professional road teams,” said Sutton.
“David will work with the squad on a voluntary basis until the end of the month with a view to subsequently joining the team in a more official capacity,” Sutton added.
The Australian talks about Millar’s involvement with the team in greater detail in this video.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.