David Millar is one of the selfless heroes charged with guiding Mark Cavendish to road-race gold. If Millar does his job right as captain on the road, Great Britain will be 1 and 0 in the medal table and Cavendish a hero. For Millar, privilege comes with the power to tell Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome to hit the brakes, something he could not do on the Tour de France.
"People know how we are going to attack this," said Millar (right). "We know what others are going to do. Germany will have similar tactics, Australia, too, but they have much less chance of succeeding than us. There is no point hiding what we are going to do. Wiggo and Froome are worth four guys, Cav two. I think we have the equivalent of 10 guys out there. And as team leader I can tell Wiggo and Froomey to slow down. You can't do that on the Tour."
Millar, a stage winner on the Tour, is a becalmed figure in this phase of his career. His role in helping guide Cavendish across the line constitutes a remarkable turnaround following his drugs bust eight years ago. He has served his time and is a valued member of the squad. "Cav has the biggest burden. He is our guy. Wiggo, Froomey and [fifth member Ian ] Stannard have it harder than me. I just manage on the road. Their roles are epic with what we are asking them to do. If it goes to plan it will be one of the biggest things we have seen in road racing.
"We will be racing Mark's race, controlling his speed. There will be races within races but it is up to us to manage that. All we need to have is Mark in place with 500 metres to go. We are all very experienced. I suppose my role is panic management if things go wrong. There are so many variables over 250k. Teams could bunch up and attack us as one. My role is to keep us calm no matter what happens."