David Millar – I mind

David Millar is intelligent, articulate, erudite, tall, good looking (a bit like my hero, David Gandy), personable, comfortably middle-class (born in Maidenhead, father an airline pilot who moved to Hong Kong), slim, achingly cool, the face of Maserati (if you can be the face of a car brand) and, oh, a drugs cheat.

In a resolutely working class sport he is now a beacon of bourgeois respectability and the go-to interviewee (apart from Bradley Wiggins who, let’s face it can be edgy and  unpredictable) on all things cycling and if he hadn’t started his own clothing brand – Chpt lll (what is it with losing the vowels from words? First Cvsdsh, then Kickr and now Chpt. Should I change the name of this blog to Lntrn Rg?) – he would make the perfect Rapha model; just needs a beard – but don’t worry it’ll come.

Which made his fall from grace in 2004 all the more bizarre. Here was a man who should have known better, who doesn’t have the ‘poor boy, uneducated, didn’t know better, the others made me do it,’ bleeding heart excuse, a man who was on the cusp of having it all and threw it all away in return for a decent palmares and a house in Girona, Spain. And like Dalton Trumbo before the House Un-American Activities Committee, he didn’t name names.

But it seems he didn’t fall very far.

Unlike Lance who was poor and relatively uneducated (ie didn’t go to public school) although did, like Millar, come from a broken home, Millar is now fully rehabilitated and an articulate spokesman for his sport, his druggy past a minor inconvenience, a hiatus, a blip, a stumble, a youthful indiscretion in his glorious resurrection. Roll away the stone, Millar’s back! He’s like the posh boy at school who smoked a joint ‘just to see what it was like’ and was swiftly forgiven by Mummy – as opposed to the bad boy who started listening to P Diddy, and became a crack dealer and was found shot dead in the street, still wearing his yellow jersey.

Please, I have nothing against Millar – he seems like a nice (that curse of the middle classes) enough guy – but the contrast in attitudes to him and Armstrong – banned for life from all competitive sport, mercilessly trolled on social media, assaulted on all sides by lawsuits, sports greatest pariah apart from Sepp Blatter  –  is stark and telling and to me a bit distasteful.

Millar’s latest book – The Racer – is okay, it’s readable enough and unlike Geraint Thomas’s book he actually seems to have written it himself but I got it half price in Waterstones and in 5 years time it will merit not a footnote in the history of great sports literature (sample sentence; ‘I fucking hate January.’)

But then I suspect Lanterne Rouge’s palmares will not be remembered much outside his own garage.

What was that line by Yeats again? ‘The best lack all conviction while the worst are filled with a passionate intensity’. There are two types of cyclist – those who want to be the best and those who want to be the worst. Which would you rather be?

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