Former drug cheat David Millar selected for Team GB road cycling squad


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The Independent Online

David Millar will do his utmost to support Mark Cavendish's bid for victory on the opening day of the Olympics after being confirmed in the Great Britain team for London 2012.

Millar was today named in the five-man road cycling squad after the British Olympic Association were forced to drop their bylaw banning those with prior doping offences, which made him eligible.

Millar, who served a two-year suspension from 2004 to 2006 after admitting to taking banned blood booster EPO, is set to make his first Olympic appearance since Sydney in 2000 in the road race on the opening day of the Games, July 28.

The 35-year-old Scot is joined in the team by Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome - all four are currently competing in the Tour de France - and British champion Ian Stannard.

All five were in the team when Cavendish won the World Championships in Copenhagen last September.

Millar was road captain in Denmark and his experience will be crucial in the Olympic race which will be challenging to control.

Speaking ahead of stage four of the Tour, Millar said: "It's exciting. I can start arranging my post-Tour de France now. It's surreal, really.

"It means a lot; it's a lot different for me than other competitors in that it was an event that I wrote off many years ago.

"I've already missed two (Olympics). The first one I was in a drunken haze and as far away from the world of sport as humanly possible, but in Beijing (in 2008) it was pretty hard to avoid how hard it was not being there.

"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."

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.

Since his suspension began just prior to the Athens Olympics, Millar has become a leading campaigner for drug-free sport.

He is set to support Cavendish's bid for Olympic gold in the 250-kilometre road race on July 28.

Despite being Commonwealth Games champion, Millar was overlooked for the time-trial event, with Wiggins and Froome set to ride at Hampton Court on August 1.

However, Millar had no complaints, insisting the team event was the one reason he wanted to ride.

He added: "It's the road race I'm passionate about, that's why I'm going."

The Olympic road race takes place 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.

Wiggins is aiming to be the first British winner of the yellow jersey, then hopes to help Cavendish triumph on a gruelling nine-lap circuit which includes Box Hill in Surrey, before concentrating on his own bid for a fourth Olympic gold after three on the track.

"I'm happy to be a part of it," said Wiggins, who will be riding in his fourth Games.

"We've got a good chance to win the road race with Cav and it's a London Olympics which makes it very special.

"I've also got a chance to go for my fourth gold medal in the time trial."

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.

British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford said: "The final selection for the men's road race was a tough choice as we had a really strong squad of riders to pick from.

"We have selected the five riders who we believe are on the best form and will give us the fastest team for the race.

"All the riders selected have a gruelling few weeks coming up, with Ian due to ride in the Tour of Poland and the rest of the lads riding in the Tour de France, so we'll be keeping an eye on injury and form. But, for now, I am confident that we have picked the best team for the race."

The selection completes the 27-rider cycling squad for the Games across four disciplines.