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British Championships - CN
Abergavenny, Great Britain, August 5 & 19, 2007
Day 1 - August 5: Elite men road race & Grand Prix of Wales
Millar takes the British crown
By Gerry McManus
David Millar took the men's British road race championship crown on Sunday, August 5 the Saunier-Duval professional finally securing the victory he had always wanted. Millar finally wore down his breakaway companion Daniel Lloyd (DFL-Cyclingnews/Litespeed) and sprinted up the last 200 metres punching the air in delight as he crossed the line.
Millar made his bid for victory from the leading group on the run back to Abergavenny on the final lap and only Lloyd was able to hold onto his wheel as he outclassed the field on the day.
Millar explained that he had been a little nervous before the start. "Sometimes you can come to these things and you can be over confident and you can throw it away," said Millar. "It helped that I was a little scared and it made me race more aggressively. It was a hard, hard day though."
"I realised when the break had gone that the race was over if I didn't bridge across to it," explained Millar. "I couldn't move without the whole bunch watching me so I put in a big attack and only Daniel [Lloyd] and Russell [Downing] could stay with me and the three of us got across. When we got there I realised that the bunch were racing behind me and I knew what the day was going to be like. So I waited until the bunch got close to us and as soon as guys started coming across, I went again."
"This win is massive for me. It means a huge amount," he added. "I have wanted this jersey for the whole of my career. I've had close calls and I have spat the dummy out a couple of times in this race before. I think I have matured with age and managed to control my temper a bit better. I am pretty proud of being British. A week after the Tour I felt bad all day today. I was tired and my legs were bad. Your perception is weird. I was off the front and my legs were hurting but I was going damn fast. I can just keep doing it as well."
How it unfolded
Some 111 riders started the 105-mile race in the hottest day of the year in Great Britain. The attacks started as soon as the race left Abergavenny and the neutralised section ended. One notable non-starter was Barloworld's Geraint Thomas.
After a few early miles, a number of key riders had formed a seven man group and they set about building a healthy margin over the bunch. Matt Stephens (Sigma Sport) had forced the split with Andy Roche and Lee Davis (both Pinarello RT), Jeremy Hunt (Unibet), Matt Talbot (Rapha Condor), Ben Pochee (Bike and Run) and Rob Hayles (Team KLR/Parker). The lead grew quickly and they had 1'55 over the main field at the end of the first lap. Millar was playing the 'pied piper' with over a hundred riders letting him set the pace. Millar had missed the break and needed all of his class to rescue the day.
Lap two commenced and Millar had broken free with Downing and Lloyd but the lead was already down to 1'25 as they made to the leaders. The chase behind was now more urgent with the teams of KFS, Recycling and Plowman Craven/Evans sharing the work on the front as the temperature reached 30 degrees C. Alex Coutts (Babes Only Villapark) and Rob Sharman (KFS) were in a determined mood on the front. The elastic finally broke as the bunch ascended the long drag up towards Newcastle and it split into several sections as the lead group had been recaptured…or at least most of it.
Millar had seen the danger and was off again with only Lloyd could able to hold on this time. Millar's timing was perfect and the dynamic duo blasted down the decent to build a decent margin in a very short time. New Zealander Gordon McCauley was trapped in the second chase group but simply rode away from his companions as they hesitated.
The lead was up to 1'50 as they reached the finishing circuit in Abergavenny. Lloyd had a scare as he punctured but fought his way back to the front with a quick wheel change and Millar eased back just enough for him to reach the Scot.
McCauley had made it to the front chase group with the defending champion Hamish Haynes (DFL/Cyclingnews), Russell Downing (Team Health Net Maxxis), Sharman, Coutts and Alex Higham (Rapha/Condor). Downing put a serious effort in on the fourth lap on the nine kilometre circuit but the leading duo stayed clear with Millar finally breaking brave Lloyd on the final climb up to the finish.
McCauley attacked on the last lap to come home three seconds clear of Haynes who won the bronze medal in the British championship to make it two spots on the podium for the DFL/Cyclingnews/Litespeed team. Only 19 riders were given an official finishing position although many more had finished the tough event. Stephens was unfortunate to crash on the finishing circuit and wasn't able to finish the event that he helped to shape.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by John Pierce/Photosport International
Images by Gerry McManus/www.gerrymcmanus.co.uk
Grand Prix of Wales 1 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval - Prodir 4.04.39 2 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) DFL - Cyclingnews - Litespeed 0.01 3 Gordon McCauley (NZl) Plowman Craven/Evans 1.27 4 Hamish Robert Haynes (GBr) DFL - Cyclingnews - Litespeed 1.30 5 Russel Downing (GBr) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 2.25 6 Rob Sharman (GBr) KFS Special Vehicles 2.30 7 Alex Coutts (GBr) Babes Only-Villapark Langemeer-Flanders 8 Alex Higham (GBr) Rapha Codor 2.33 9 Mark Lovatt (GBr) Planet X/Sports Cover 2.56 10 Rob Partridge (GBr) Recycling.co.uk 11 Marcin Bialoblocki (GBr) Middridge RT 12 Richard Wilkinson (Aus) Rapha Condor RT 2.58 13 Mark Wordsworth (GBr) JE James RT 3.00 14 Martin Ford (GBr) 3.15 15 David Clarke (GBr) 3.16 16 Lee Davis (GBr) Pinarello/Rudy Project / Most 3.18 17 Daniel Shand (GBr) BW Heist Zuiderkempen.BE 18 Mark Thwaites (GBr) Kinesis UK 19 Chris Newton (GBr) Recycling.co.uk Points 1 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval - Prodir 28 pts 2 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) DFL - Cyclingnews - Litespeed 20 3 Russel Downing (GBr) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 5 British Championships 1 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval - Prodir 2 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) DFL - Cyclingnews - Litespeed 3 Hamish Robert Haynes (GBr) DFL - Cyclingnews - Litespeed