David Millar is an artist - whether it be the art of cycling, the art of conversation, or the art of, well, 'art' - he is quite unlike any other athlete you will meet. The name of his clothing brand, CHPT3, may refer to the third chapter in his career, but much like a novel, there is far more than a beginning, middle and an end to David.
Born in Malta while his father was stationed there with the Royal Air Force, he was raised at RAF Kinloss in Scotland before heading south to Aylesbury. After his parents' divorce, David moved to Hong Kong to be with his father. He had discovered mountain biking shortly before relocating, but the cycling ex-pats who took him under their wing knew that his calling was to be a road cyclist and he took their advice upon his return to England.
Cycling with High Wycombe CC in an attempt to meet new people and occupy his time pre-Arts College, he began to realise his true potential and it was only a week before college would begin that he relocated to Picardy in France to race instead. Very soon the professional teams came calling, including the locally based Cofidis, with whom he would eventually sign. In his first year as a professional he won the first stage of his first Tour de France and in doing so, took the yellow, green and white jerseys – With only the polka dot left to complete the set, as they say, watch this space.
A career in the ascendant masked emotions in turmoil as David fought to live up to expectations in a world where people were seemingly increasingly not playing by the rules. Under UCI regulations, an admission equates a positive test, and under French law, a positive test is a criminal offence – that's how David Millar found himself in court in Nanterre in 2006.
The two year ban is perhaps a chapter best skim-read, culminating in a contract with Spanish team Saunier-Duval-Prodir awaiting his return to the bike. In true David fashion, his first pro-race back was the 2006 Tour de France and all eyes were on Millar yet again.
Two top 20 finishes may have shown his form hadn't completely deserted him, but amidst the Operation Puerto scandal surrounding sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, David suddenly found a new role in the peloton. Spokesperson.
He had gone from being “Le Dandy”, the eccentric young Brit who quit the 2002 Vuelta a Espana in protest of dangerous conditions, leaving for home before the race judges could even disqualify him, to being “The Elder Statesman”, the measured, realistic voice of cycling. This vocal anti-doping stance, from a pro who had seen both sides, led to joining Slipstream-Chipotle – a team famed for their values and aim to make cycling a clean sport. And that polka dot jersey we've been waiting patiently for? That came in the 2007 Tour de France in Canterbury of all places.
Becoming co-owner of what was now Garmin-Slipstream in 2008, Millar was truly embedded back in the highest level of the sport, not only achieving results left, right and centre, but becoming a trusted name on and off the bike. Though his time in the pink jersey of the Giro d'Italia was overshadowed by the tragic death of Wouter Weylandts, David helped organise tributes on the subsequent stage and presented a stoic and thoughtful figure for the eyes of media around the world.
Winning the Time Trial later in the same Giro meant David became only the third British rider (or second Scot if you want to look at it that way) to win stages of all three Grand Tours. He remains, along with Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, one of only three riders to have worn the leader's jersey in all three Grand Tours. He has won four stages of the Tour de France, five stages of the Vuelta a Espana, and one stage of the Giro d'Italia, alongside two silver medals in the World Championships Time Trial, and holding the British Road and Time Trial champions jersey at the same time. He remains the only British rider to have worn all four jerseys of the Tour de France. It's quite an impressive body of work.
But it's only one volume.
His eloquence and experience have meant a progression into commentary and journalism was almost inevitable, and he is now the co-pilot of ITV's pro-cycling coverage alongside fellow author and raconteur Ned Boulting. He's also published two autobiographies, advised on a Hollywood movie, and starred in a documentary. If ever there was a true renaissance man of the sport, it would be David Millar and he's just as excited to be in South Africa as we are.
“My wife, Nicole, is half South African and we’ve been on holiday there, as well as for our honeymoon. We love it there and are very excited about returning. Nicole and I have never been away cycling together. She is a very keen cyclist, and so having the opportunity to travel and do something new somewhere different is exciting. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about LeBlanq, it’s going to be a trip to remember.” - David Millar
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