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Friday, 30 June, 2000, 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK
Making merry and making history
David Millar and bike
Millar and his mount: The best British prospect in years
By Angus Crawford from BBC Radio 4's PM programme

"He likes Lava Lamps and sports cars - if he was not a cyclist you could imagine him as a snowboarder, in a band or a VJ on MTV."

Procyling magazine editor Jeremy Whittle has seen the great two-wheeled hopes of British cycling come and go but he confesses he has never come across anyone like 23-year-old David Millar.


David's got the potential to be the best Brit yet
Jeremy Whittle, Editor of Pro Cyling Magazine
"He can ride well in mountain stages and time trials - David's got the potential to be the best Brit yet."

This weekend he gets the chance to prove it. The three weeks and 3,700km of the Tour de France will test his potential to the limit.

Millar has been compared to the legendary Greg Lemond and his sponsors talk of him as a future Tour winner.

David Millar at home
Millar is thrilled to be about to start his first Tour
"The fact he was plucked from relative obscurity from the rafts of amateur riders....really shows how gifted he could prove to be."

With the afternoon sun glinting off rap-around shades, Millar leans casually against several thousand pounds of designer road racer.

His trousers are baggy, the stubble is just under control and he's constantly on the move.

Standing a little over six feet, David Millar is all cheekbones and angles.

"Always 24/seven worrying about it," the need to train he confesses is almost an addiction.

"If I've been out and partied, I only get about one or two hours sleep - I wake up paranoid."

"For about three months a year I get monk serious, where it's no partying, living by myself...becoming a lunatic about everything."


My friends were never the jocks of the school they were always the arty wasters
David Millar
"But you do manage to party?" I ask him.

He grins and nods emphatically: "Oh yeah. I'm obliged, my friends were never the jocks of the school they were always the arty wasters."

In fact at 17, Millar, a talented painter, faced a stark choice.

He had a place at art college or the chance of pursuing a life as a pro-cyclist.

He figured he could be "a good cyclist or a good artist, but not both".

In 1997 he joined top french team Cofidis and after a series of strong performances this year become joint leader.

Born in Malta, raised in Scotland, England and Hong Kong and now living in Biaritz, his are not conventional cycling roots.

David Millar in shades
Millar admits he likes to party - within reason
"A lot of the French journalists say I come from a bourgeois background - which isn't common, a lot of them come from farms - that's the continental attitude the bourgeois kids won't do it."

"I'm frightened of him falling off, I'm frightened of him not achieving what he wants," says David's mother Avril as she sorts through his kit at her home in Berkshire.

"I just hate seeing him with six and a half per cent body fat and finishing with less, but its what he's chosen to do and nothing else will give him that buzz."

"Within a month you could be the mum of a super star with his face on posters all across Europe," I say.
The 23-year-old is a different breed to many continental pros

Avril Millar pauses, "I'd love him if he was sweeping the streets. It would be lovely for him, but he will still just be the nicest son."

As for his first tour, Millar says: "I'm so excited. Clearly for everyone in the UK it's the only cycle event in the world.

"It's always been decided I'd do it this year and that's been sitting at the back of my head, but now that I'm actually doing it, it's like Woah!"

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jeremy Whittle
"He's in great form"
David Millar
"I'm so excited"
See also:

28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
Links to more Tour de France stories are at the foot of the page.


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