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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 May, 2004, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
Millar targets track gold
By Helen Dapre

David Millar talks to Sunday Grandstand
Millar wants to boost British interest in cycling
David Millar will switch to the track in Athens in a bid to win Olympic gold in the individual pursuit.

Across continental Europe cycling dominates the sports pages during the summer months, but in Britain interest in the sport remains limited.

Millar hopes another British Olympic victory will help raise the status of cycling amongst the public.

"Cycling's low profile in the UK is one of the biggest reasons I'm doing it," Millar told Sunday Grandstand.

"I've been convinced to do the individual pursuit, which everyone will know is the event Chris Boardman won in 1992.

"The Olympics isn't a question of me getting fame in the UK.

"But I know that if I can get a gold medal at the Olympics, people will then follow me in the Tour de France and in my cycling career on continental Europe as a British Olympic gold medallist."

Millar's commitment to this goal is evident in his targets for 2004.

"The Olympics are number one and the Tour de France is number two," reveals the Malta-born Scot.

"At the Olympics, I'm taking a risk. I spent a lot of time this winter working with some guys who've been basically trying to turn me into a track rider, which I think is fairly unprecedented.

"Going from the road, I've literally never competed on the track at an international event.

"If it all goes to plan, the first time I'll do the individual pursuit will be when I'm lining up at the start to do it at the Olympics, which is a bit mad!"
Chris Boardman holds aloft his Olympic gold medal from 1992
Boardman won Olympic individual pursuit gold in Barcelona

Since winning the prologue at the 2000 Tour de France, Millar's career has been a catalogue of bad luck and near-misses.

The Cofidis rider is the first to admit his progress has been far from smooth, particularly over the last 12 months.

"In 2003 I had an up-and-down year - to be honest, my career's been a rollercoaster. It's been emotional, there's never a steady line," he admits.

"Last year I started off pretty well in training, then I had a horrendous crash at the end of March which hospitalised me for a week and kept me off the bike for a month in April."

And further misfortune followed in the Tour de France.

"I was on top of my game at the Tour. I was killing everybody on the prologue and was going to win it hands down. Then my chain came off five hundred metres from the finish.

"After that I got sick, but I battled through and fortunately won the last stage. It's just always emotional for me."

Despite all the heartaches and controversy, however, the reigning world time-trial champion's love for his sport remains constant.

"In all honesty, 95% of the time it's not fun, it's horrible.

"It's like bashing your head against a wall - all the self-doubt, going out in the rain, bad weather... it's a pretty lonely life.

"But for the other 5% it's just magic, which makes up for it all."

Millar is hoping for more magic in the shape of an Olympic gold medal in Athens on 21 August.


WATCH AND LISTEN
David Millar
"I'm taking a big risk going for the individual pursuit on the track"



SEE ALSO
Millar back in the saddle
30 Apr 04 |  Cycling



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