| When he was signed by French Cofidis team at the tender age of 19, British cyclist David Millar, was labeled as a future Tour winner, because of his immense talent. However the learning curve has been steep and Millar is starting to realize that talent alone is not enough to conquer the Grand Boucle.
His winning ride at the 2000 Tour's prologue, gave him the confidence he was looking for, but the last two years have been difficult for the Briton.
After a horrendous start to the 2002 season (diagnosed with mononucleosis), Millar wants more out of the Tour this year. Speaking to Reuters, the 25 year old said, "I'm not capable of winning the Tour but I won't be content with just winning prologues".
"I'm not the same rider as (fellow Briton) Chris Boardman who based his whole season just on the Tour prologue,' he added".
Living near the Pyrenees (Biarritz, France) has helped improve his climbing. "I don't turn back when I feel bad any more. I keep trying and that's the new thing," he said.
Wearing the yellow jersey during the 2000 Tour was a great experience for the young Cofidis leader. "I held the yellow jersey until the team time trial and it's still a great memory. But then I kept having problems. I crashed in the Ventoux climb and I finished with a dislocated collarbone and rib".
Last year, after following an intense early season, Millar arrived at the Tour with an empty tank. "In 2001, I came on to the Tour extremely tired and in the Dunkirk prologue I tried to compensate for my lack of form by
taking risks. I crashed and it was a nightmare until I gave up in L'Alpe d'Huez," he said.
But Millar came back like a storm, winning the prologue and a stage at last year's Vuelta a Espaņa, after concentrating and training really hard with teammate Massimiliano Lelli. He went on to take the silver medal at the World's Time Trial Championships in Portugal.
"It's true that I'm a time trial specialist but when I was
in the amateur ranks I was very versatile. In 2000, in spite of the pain, I finished the Tour well. That's when I realized I was a three-weeks rider".
"Now I'm preparing for the Tour de France, not just for the prologue, even though on a good day I have a good chance to win in Luxembourg".
But as far as overall victory, Millar knows that Armstrong is the number one man. "He's going to win the Tour again. It would take a very odd script for him to lose".
Millar is a smart rider and has age and talent on his side. Time will tell if he is indeed, a Tour de France champion