Millar wins first Road Cycling Gold for Scotland

October 12, 2010

David Millar made history in Delhi on Wednesday, becoming the first Scot ever to win a gold medal in a road cycling event.

After his bronze in Sunday’s road race, Millar was the favourite going into the 40km time trial, which was made challenging by strong wind. The race was held on an expressway on the outskirts of Delhi, with a tailwind-assisted first 20km before the riders had to turn and ride directly into the wind – an experience Millar later said was “like pedalling through treacle.”

Yet as others struggled along the flat course, Millar was a model of efficiency – head down, legs slicing up and down, he cut through the wind like a blade. After leading England’s Alex Dowsett at half-distance – by just four seconds – his margin of victory was a whopping 54 seconds on the line.

“I felt good, though it was not the sort of course I like,” said Millar. “I prefer it when it’s up and down, and left and right, and more dynamic, but it was a beautiful ride. Normally I get info [time splits] in a time trial but there was nothing, which was a little bit disconcerting.

“Yesterday, when I rode the course, I saw the wind was going to be the big difficulty,” he continued. “It meant you were riding at 60kph on the way out, which is fast, but you have at the back of the mind that you’ve got a U-turn in 20km.

“It was important not to get carried away in the first half of the ride. I think everyone felt like Superman, it was so fast. It was really heavy coming back, like pedalling in treacle, and not much fun.”

After stepping off the podium – where Millar was given his gold medal by First Minister Alex Salmond – Millar admitted the presentation had been an emotional affair. “This is special, it’s what I aimed for all year,” he said.

And asked what it meant to represent Scotland for the first time in his career, he added: “It’s the reason I’m doing it: to wear the Scotland jersey and win in the Scotland jersey; it means the world to me.

“It’s the first chance I’ve ever had to do it, so it was quite emotional on the podium. When you’re so focused on the event, you forget why you do it, and why it’s so important to you. But when I was standing on the podium and the flag was going up, and the whole team was standing in front of me, singing Flower of Scotland, it hit home what it meant to me.

“I’ve lived all over the place and moved my whole life; I lost my accent when I was 6 or 7 years old, but my heart’s in Scotland. And that came home on the podium.

“I’ve had a fairly odd life to date, travelling and moving around, and I’ve had some great experiences, but my home has always been Scotland, my parents are Scottish and proud, and to actually do something when I’m part of Scotland, it feels special. I haven’t lived there for years but that’s where I’m from and today it felt like that. I owe a lot to Scotland; they believed in me and supported me the last few years and this is a little way to say thank you to them.”

Starting the race as favourite did add some pressure, Millar admitted. “It did affect me a bit on the road, when I came up [to catch] on what I thought was Luke Durbridge, then saw it was Dave McCann. I thought: uh oh. Where’s Luke? Then I saw him.

“I’ve done so many time trials this year that I have a protocal, a routine, and from when I wake up in the morning I know what I’m doing,” explained Millar. “That doesn’t change whether I’m at the Tour de France or here in Delhi.”

Evan Oliphant also finished his Games strongly, putting in a good ride in his fourth event to place 11th. Andy Fenn also rode well, for a final position of 14th. And earlier, in the 29km women’s time trial, Team Scotland’s Pippa Handley was 16th.

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