Millar named in GB squad
David Millar has begun to consider how Great Britain and Mark Cavendish can win the Olympic road race on the opening day of London 2012 after being confirmed in the squad for the Games.
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The 35-year-old Scot served a two-year doping ban from 2004 to 2006 after admitting using blood-boosting agent EPO and had written off hopes of competing in the Olympics.
Surprised when the British Olympic Association's lifetime ban for doping offenders was first challenged and then quashed, Millar then faced a quandary over whether he should - or even wanted to - be selected for London 2012.
Now - after being named alongside Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Ian Stannard - he faces another conundrum: how to help secure gold in the 250-kilometre race which will be challenging to control.
"The scale of it is daunting," said Millar, who was road captain when Cavendish won World Championships gold in Denmark last September. "It's not like Copenhagen where we had a team of nine and it was a flat course and we could rely on Cav's undoubted genius to pull through in the finale.
"This one's going to be tactical and incredibly physical. I think it's going to be the hardest thing we'll ever do as a team."
Success revolves around Cavendish, with Millar adding: "Mark's our plan A, plan B, plan C."
Cavendish has long spoken of his wish for the team to include Millar, whose experience in a race which takes place without radios is vital.
"He never hid his emotions and his beliefs," added Millar, who took part in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
"He believed that I deserved to go and that went beyond his need for me.
"I owe it to him to pay that back in one way or another.
"I made the right decision to put myself up and I'm very proud that the team has seen that I won't be a hindrance and that I can be a positive influence.
"I want to help and I want to help Mark win the gold medal."
Millar was in a "drunken haze" during Athens 2004, but when Britain won eight cycling gold medals in Beijing four years later his absence hurt.
He is unfazed by any possible reaction to his selection, after he followed sprinter Dwain Chambers into Team GB.
"There was a risk that I might become a negative story in the build-up - all of a sudden it will be about 'Millar the drug cheat'," he added.
"My biggest concern now is doing my job on the day and not letting Mark down or the team down. That over-rides everything else.
"I'd like to think the tide has turned slightly. People are starting to understand more my full story and also my reasons for going and I hope that will calm that negative turmoil beforehand.
"The stress is on us as a team to do what we do best. If we're ever going to do that we're going to do it on home ground at the London Olympics. It's going to be an amazing race and it's going to be quite a spectacle I think."
Millar's role begins before the start, with negotiations required with other teams to come to a gentleman's agreement over how the race should be run.
"Cycling is a strange one, we'll form alliances," he added.
"We'll have to look at the other team selections and see who are going to rely on similar tactics to us and come to gentlemen's agreements.
"There's going to other teams and their whole mission is to make this impossible for us to get there in a sprint situation.
"It's a bit mission impossible, but I think Cav's proven in the past that that's his speciality, mission impossibles."
There was a possibility Commonwealth Games time-trial champion Millar could have been selected for the August 1 race against the clock at Hampton Court.
But Wiggins has been joined by Froome in the individual event.
"It's the road race I'm passionate about, that's why I'm going," Millar added.
The road race takes six days after the Tour concludes in Paris.
First Cavendish, Wiggins, Froome (all Team Sky) and Millar (Garmin-Sharp) must negotiate the Alps and Pyrenees en route to the Champs Elysees.
Steve Cummings, Ben Swift and Jeremy Hunt were cut from the initial eight-man long list announced on June 13, but could be required if illness, injury or loss of form affects any of the five riders named.
Cummings, at the Tour riding for BMC Racing in support of defending champion Cadel Evans, had been expected to get a place, but Team Sky rider Stannard's June 24 British title success in Ampleforth, North Yorkshire, clearly impressed.