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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
No way back for Millar
David Millar was ninth overall before Sunday's stage
Millar was ninth overall before Sunday's stage
Cofidis team's sporting director Francis van Londersele confirmed that Briton David Millar will not be returning to the Tour of Spain.

Millar walked over the finish line of the demanding 15th stage in protest at the conditions on La Vuelta's most feared and notorious climb.


The Vuelta without the Angliru is like a five-kilometre marathon or a 15-minute football match
Race director Enrique Franco

His actions left organisers no option but to consider him retired from the three-week race, in which he had been hoping to finish among the top 10.

His team said he would not be seeking reinstatement.

"There is absolutely no possibility that David will return to the race," Van Londersele said. "He has already left the team hotel for his home in Biarritz.

"I talked this over with race officials and they said the fact that he had taken off his race number automatically meant an abandon."

Van Londersele added that Millar had apologised to his team-mates and staff "for a decision which has a lot to do with his youth".

"It's a question of self-control," he added. "He knows as well as anybody that when you start a course you accept all it entails, be it dangerous or not.

"There are accepted ways of registering your protest about race conditions."

Prior to Sunday's stage, which ended on the summit finish of the 1570-metre Angliru climb, the 25-year-old Cofidis rider had been ninth overall.

But after enduring two falls prior to struggling through the rain and fog up the day's final climb - a road which in former days had been used by shepherds to transport their goats - the Scot decided to call it a day.

Inhumane climb

Given the Angliru's reputation, Millar's actions may not be too harshly criticised.

"It's an inhumane climb," said Kelme's Oscar Sevilla, who came second overall last year and lost his overall lead on Sunday as Roberto Heras of US Postal tamed the mountain.

But race organisers defended the inclusion of the climb, which has featured twice before in 1999 and 2000.

"The Vuelta without the Angliru is like a five-kilometre marathon or a 15-minute football match," said race director Enrique Franco.

"On the first year [of the Vuelta], the Angliru stage attracted six million television viewers. And cycling exists through sponsorship."

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