The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
and mineral supplements you charge six million?"
With a little over seven months remaining of his two-year doping ban, Brit David Millar has been discussing his time spent in exile and return to the sport next year. Expected to sign a contract with the Spanish Saunier-Duval team, Millar is targeting a comeback in the 2006 Tour de France.
"I had a long time off the bike, when I just didn't even touch it," he told The Times newspaper. "Last summer I started riding again, around the Peak District. I loved it and within a month felt like I was flying. It reminded me that actually I am quite good at it."
He went on to add, "Things kept getting worse, with financial issues and a lot of other escalating worries. It was very hard. I think we all deal with those situations and get out of them differently. I had my own way of getting through it and getting my head back above water.
"I lost everything and was punished, but that's what punishment is. You don't come out of it easily. The circumstances dictated that I ended up paying a very high price for my errors compared to other people."
Millar called for the UCI to do more in its fight in the battle against doping. Having had the opportunity to view the sport from outside the goldfish bowl of professional cycling, he is a strong supporter for increasing the number of doping tests currently conducted.
"By all means test the top Tour favourites, with random tests on a regular basis. Cycling needs those kind of testing tactics - I think that all sport does. The UCI need to get a grip on it. Where is the prevention? Why don't the UCI publish lists of who they random-test each month and the results, so that we know they're doing it? It's the UCI's responsibility and I don't think they're fulfilling that responsibility."
Ah, isn?t hindsight a wonderful thing? We can only hope that Millar has learned from his mistakes and that he is genuinely concerned to ensure that his fate does not befall other young, talented riders. While many can argue that Millar should not be allowed back into the sport, we should remember that unlike many riders whose success we choose to celebrate, once caught he did not go on an extended crusade to plead his innocence. He held up his hands and said ?yes, I?m guilty?.
Finally, this week, the 2006 Giro d?Italia route has been released. Similar to the Tour de France, it includes a ferocious final week with five days of hard climbing ensuring drama until the end. The course is sure to provide a winning opportunity to a strong climber. You would probably do well to put money on either Damiano Cunego of the Lampre-Caffita team or Jose' Rujano of Colombia-Selle Italia.
After a disappointing 2005 spent recovering from mononucleosis, Cunego is desperate to put this year behind him and look forward to the future.