Millar is enriched by pain and suffering

Scottish cyclist produces both the potential and survival instinct necessary to be a winner of the Tour de France

The Scottish flags flew on the Champs Elysées. It was Millar time again, according to his fans' T-shirts, and David Millar finished his first Tour de France with a flourish. Just as he had started it.

The Scottish flags flew on the Champs Elysées. It was Millar time again, according to his fans' T-shirts, and David Millar finished his first Tour de France with a flourish. Just as he had started it.

In between that first yellow jersey at the Futuroscope theme park and his big but abortive attack in Paris there was pain, suffering and 3,662 kilometres. "I have learned a lot over three weeks," Millar said, and one sharp lesson was how to battle on although your body is battered from a crash.

He fell twice, but the second on the road to the Ventoux mountain almost two weeks ago left the Scot in agony. His neck bore an angry burn from a spinning tyre and an X-ray showed a dislocated collarbone. He was in agony, but soldiered on aided by pain-killers.

"After my Ventoux crash I was creeping, but as I improved I just took it easy. I never had a thought about quitting," he said, and on one mountain when he was with a group of stragglers Millar sportingly pushed a struggling Magnus Backstedt to keep the Swede going. That moment on the podium in the yellow jersey seemed distant on those days of suffering through the Alps, but there was only one remaining objective, Paris or bust.

He was told by team official Alain Bondue that it was necessary to feel the real agony of three days in the Alps to prepare himself for greater times on future Tours. One Alpine stage lasted eight and a half hours, and those with the survival instinct plugged away to reach the finish before the elimination deadline.

"You are just in your own little world. No one talks. You are all too tired," Millar said. Sunday night in Paris was party-time as he and other riders, plus his family and schoolfriends who flew in from Hong Kong, relaxed after a debut that heralds a great future.

"He has the potential to be a Tour winner in a few years," Bondue, of Millar's Cofidis team, said, only the fall ruining more chances of seeing that potential in action. Teamwork is crucial in the Tour, but Millar would not have reached such racing heights without the help of an unseen team.

For now he can unwind, with three yellow jerseys in his bag. A new one is awarded each day a rider leads, and a bunch of former internationals will be hoping that one of those jerseys is coming their way. "Last year we raised £800 by auctioning one of Lance Armstrong's yellow jerseys," said Keith Lambert, one of seven ex-racers who vet talented applicants seekingfinancial support from the Dave Rayner Fund.

In 1996 Millar was the first they funded towards setting up a European career. "Since then David has kept telling us 'if it was not for you guys I would not have made it'," Lambert said. "His performance is beyond our wildest dreams. We thought the fund would wane after five years but it is just getting stronger, and this is sure to help. Riders get a monthly payment to help them out, but they have to be hungry for success, too."

Millar became a professional at 20 for French sponsors Cofidis when Armstrong was in the team. "I was around before British cycling had its World Class Performance programme and a proper national team," Millar said. "That is one of the reasons I turned professional so early. I did not have much option."

Millar is not alone on the success trail thanks to the fund. Charly Wegelius races for the world's No 1 team, Mapei of Italy, and Jamie Burrow last year was ranked the best under-22 in the world. He is with Armstrong's team, US Postal Services. "We never thought we would get three as good as that in such a short time. Dave Rayner would have been proud of what has been achieved. Our reward is seeing these lads succeed," Lambert said of the Yorkshireman who raced for a Dutch professional team, but died six years ago.

Millar is the 50th Briton to start a Tour de France, since Charles Holland in 1937, and the 22nd to go the full distance. He finished 62nd, more than two hours and 13 minutes behind Armstrong, who put into perspective the feeling of completing the Tour. "Three weeks is a long time whether you are first or 101st. It's a special feeling, and a real sense of accomplishment, and it changes a rider for the rest of his career."

That certainly rings true for Santiago Botero,who was crowned King of the Mountains, the first Colombian to take that title since LuchoHerrera in 1987.

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game