Jeanine Laudy

LetterProfessor

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Dave the brave (in English)

Might David Millar – or one of his English speaking friends or fans – want to read this piece and not having to put it through Google Translate, then here’s the English translation of my blogpost ‘Dave the Brave‘. For everyone deciding to click away now, I’d just like to say: buy the book!

tom-jenkins-guardian-david-millarHaving read through the first chapters of David Millar‘s book, Racing through the Dark, I found that we don’t really have anything in common, David and I. He decided at 17 he wanted to be a pro cyclist and achieved that goal not much later – with already quite a few wins on his palmares. A big contrast with the two beginner seasons I have experienced as a cyclist so far.
I also thought he wasn’t really that nice. He was so full of himself, living the life of a rock star, totally convinced it’s normal when an entire team works solely for you in races. Fortunately, he does admit later in the book that he recognizes this, when he recounts his wife Nicole telling him (rightly so): “You were such a dick, David!”. And it fits in the build-up of the book. You are supposed to think of him as a dick in the beginning, since he actually was. He sees this now and therefore knows how he doesn’t want to be during his ‘second’ career.

(When David is on altitude training and needs a pep talk, I discover that we might have something in common after all. In the pep talk, his trainer says: “You are so intense […] but you can’t be like that all the time – you’re going to have times like this, when you burn out. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about it – it’s just the way you are. You can’t hit the highs that you do, and be as intense as you are, without having these lows”. I recognize this, as I am programmed in the same way. I have accepted it now: I have high peeks, but also dramatic lows. I can be absolutely euphoric when something good happens, but also become quite depressed after something goes wrong. It’s not always easy, but I wouldn’t want to miss those highs – even if that means I don’t have to go through the lows anymore.)

A skeptic will remain skeptic after reading this book. It’s easy to think that David Millar just wants to clear his name and arise as some sort of anti doping ‘messiah’. But I believe him. It think all events happened as he describes them. That the doping world is not just black & white, but contains a rather big gray area. That in the nineties, at some point, you didn’t necessarily have a choice anymore. It’s good that the omertà has disappeared for the most part and David Millar talks openly about his doping past – and with him a lot of other riders too. They now have a proactive stance against doping. The recent confession of Garmin team manager Jonathan Vaughters is just another example of the fading omertà and is not to be viewed as something negative – I think anyway. But whether Tyler Hamilton‘s new book, which is set to be released on ex-team mate Lance Armstrong‘s birthday, will be received equally welcoming among fellow cyclists and will contribute to the positive developments does have to remain to be seen, I’m afraid.

Foto: The Guardian/Tom Jenkins