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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 July, 2004, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
O'Grady - We'll miss Millar
By Matt Majendie
BBC Sport in Liege

David Millar and Stuart O'Grady during the 2003 Tour de France
Millar and O'Grady are good friends
Stuart O'Grady says the decision to bar team-mate David Millar from the Tour de France is a massive blow to Cofidis.

Millar had been due to lead the team on the Tour but was axed by race officials as part of an ongoing doping inquiry.

The Scot had been detained by police after team-mate Philippe Gaumont said he had taken the banned substance EPO.

"David's exit is a massive blow but hopefully we'll be able to bounce back from it and focus mentally on the Tour," O'Grady told BBC Sport.

"He's a very, very good friend of mine, so it's been very hard, and I've talked to him on the phone since.

"But, as a team, we have to take a step back and try not to think about these problems during the race. We've got a job to do."

Millar's ban from the Tour comes in the wake of a lengthy investigation into Cofidis after Gaumont admitted in January taking EPO and subsequently accused Millar and his team-mates of also taking banned substances.

Millar, the world time trial champion, who had been putting together his final preparations for this year's Tour, was taken into custody in Biarritz.

Cofidis have been under investigation since seven of its riders - including Gaumont and Robert Sassone, Mederic Clain and Marek Rutkiewicz - were charged with doping offences.

They have all left or been sacked by the team since.

Former physio Boguslaw Madejak and an ex-manager of their third division team, Oleg Kozlitine, have also been sacked after the Paris judge investigating the case pressed charges.

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