David Millar named in Team GB Olympic squad


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The Independent Online

David Millar was today named in Great Britain's Olympic cycling team alongside Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.

The 35-year-old in 2004 was handed a two-year suspension for admitting use of banned blood booster EPO, but is now a fervent anti-doping campaigner and was last month officially cleared to compete at London 2012 after the British Olympic Association's bylaw banning drug cheats for life was revoked.

Millar is one of eight riders in the men's road squad long list but played an integral role in Cavendish's World Championships win last September and is likely to fill one of the five spots when the final team is named for the July 28 road race.

There were few surprises in the squad tasked with improving on Britain's haul of eight gold medals in Beijing.

Hoy and Pendleton, for whom the Olympics will mark the end of her career, lead the track squad, Tour de France contender Wiggins is included in the road squad and defending champion Nicole Cooke is among the women's group on the road.

Millar returns to Olympic competition for the first time since Sydney bidding to help a British squad seeking to improve on a haul of eight gold medals in Beijing four years ago.

British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford said: "We have selected what I believe to be an excellent team going into an Olympic Games and we have a good mix of experienced Olympians alongside young riders who are making their Olympic debut.

"We still have some decisions to make, for example, the road teams will be refined in due course and who will ride in what event on the track will be determined nearer the time.

"Overall, though, the GB Cycling Team has had a strong season across all the disciplines and we are ready to step up again at the Olympics."

The track squad includes the team which scooped five gold medals from 10 Olympic events at April's Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne.

Hoy is still to discover if he will be granted the opportunity to defend all three of the Olympic gold medals won in Beijing, with 2008 Olympic silver medallist Jason Kenny pushing the Scot hard for the one sprint place.

Hoy said: "The standard in the British Cycling team is so high and the selection process is always going to be tough, but there's a great atmosphere in the team and we just need to keep putting in the hours in training and make sure we're in the best shape possible for race day.

"This is my fourth Olympics, but my first home Games, and it's going to be an amazing experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us."

Hoy and Kenny are joined in the sprint squad by 19-year-old German-born Philip Hindes, with Olympic champions Ed Clancy and Geraint Thomas in the endurance group - for the team pursuit and omnium - alongside Steven Burke, Peter Kennaugh and Andy Tennant.

Pendleton and Jess Varnish are in the women's sprint squad, with Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Wendy Houvenaghel in the endurance events.

Britain are set to take up their host nation places in the remaining two cycling disciplines, with all eyes on three-time world champion Shanaze Reade in the BMX. Liam Phillips is to be given every opportunity to prove his fitness and take the men's place after suffering a fractured collar bone at last month's Birmingham World Championships.

The mountain bike places have gone to Liam Killeen, who has recorded top-10 finishes at the last two Games, and Annie Last.