David Millar has revealed that he is to retire from racing at the end of the 2014 season. One of Britain’s most successful road cyclists, he is also arguably the most controversial, serving a two-year ban after confessing to EPO use.
The Garmin-Sharp rider, aged 36, has won stages in all three of cycling’s Grand Tours – the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España – and was also the first Briton to wear the leader’s jersey in all three of those races.
Millar, who is married with two young sons, confirmed his retirement in a video interview with the Dutch magazine, Weiler Revue.
"It has been quite organic really," he admitted. "You always think it is going to be a definitive moment but it hasn't been. It has kind of crept up and I am suddenly realising it is time. “
Last year, Millar won a stage of the Tour de France, and he reflected: “I can still be on top of the game – I know that – but it is a lot harder for me now and I want to be on top of my game next year, so I know I can get that out of me.
"With the motivation of knowing it is my last year, I know I can get the best out of myself."
He rejected the idea his body was getting weaker. “I think my body is actually getting stronger. It is just that I don't want it or need it as much as I did when I was younger. It is very much a conscious decision.”
Asked what he considered to be the high point of his career, Millar said: “My whole career is a highlight. I’d like to think years from now I’d remember this as being one part of my life rather than one moment in my life.”
In 2003, Millar won the World Time Trial Championship in Canada, but within a year was in disgrace after police arrested him while he was having dinner in his then hometown of Biarritz, France, with British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford.
Police searched Millar’s home and found two syringes. Millar, then riding for Cofidis, insists he had stopped doping at that point and had kept them as a warning to himself, but his admission of having used EPO led to a two-year ban.
Following his return to the sport with Saunier-Duval in 2006, Millar became an high-profile critic of drug use within the peloton, and now sits on the athlete committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
He was also one of the first riders signed up to Garmin-Sharp’s management company, Slipstream Sports, when Jonathan Vaughters was putting the squad together in 2007 and now has a stake in the business.
It was WADA’s successful challenge last year at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) of the British Olympic Association’s lifetime ban for drug cheats that paved the way for Millar to compete in the road race at London 2012.
He had acted as road captain when Mark Cavendish won the rainbow jersey in Copenhagen in 2011, but despite leading a strong Team GB performance at the Olympics for most of the race, the chance of a gold medal slipped away from Cavendish on the final Box Hill circuit.
Born on Malta to Scottish parents, his father’s career as a pilot took Millar to Scotland and Buckinghamshire and – after his parents divorced – Hong Kong.
His upbringing, and his racing career, including his downfall and subsequent return to the sport, are the subject of his powerful autobiography, Racing Through the Dark.
Millar's programme for 2014 remains unknown, but the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France both start in the UK, in Belfast and Leeds, respectively.
Later in the season, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow may well be the event where the Scot decides to call it a day as he defends the time trial title he won at Delhi in 2010.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.