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on 10 April 2012
We heard David Millar speak at the Hay Festival about the drug culture in professional cycling, his own descent into use of performance enhancing drugs and his subsequent championing of the battle against drug use as he reentered top class racing. He was eloquent then. His book, in collaboration with Jeremy Whittle, is compelling. It is not very often that you hear and read an eloquent and intelligent sportsman on a subject of general interest, rather than their own glory.
David's claim that he resisted the ubiquitous drug culture of the professional cycling world when he joined the French teams in the 1990's is convincing. He describes the highs of a very talented non French biker and the dynamics and friendships and rivalries within the Confidis racing team. In 1999 he was in the maillot jaune for three days in the Tour and was joshing with Lance Armstrong, a sound guy for whom he clearly had immense respect, but not Marco Pantani who was cold. The inside view of the great riders of the last 10 years is fascinating.
On gaining his fame he certainly lived the high life in Biarritz. In 2001 David was leader of the Confidis team. Was it a combination of the high life, the incredible demands on a professional cyclist and the break up with his girlfriend which undermined his declared "clean" status? Was it the blowing up on the Dauphine Libere prelude to the Tour that year, or the complete disaster experienced by the Confidis team's performance in the tour and Millar's withdrawal from the race? The pressure was on him from his team and his colleagues to "prepare properly"?. There may be an element of self justification in his description of how legally taking vitamins intravenously on a daily basis made the use of EPO seem normal, but the picture he paints of the ubiquitous use of drugs amongst the professionals is convincing.
In 2003 Millar joined the British team in Manchester for the World Championships. His comparison of the professionalism and management skill of the UK team and David Brailsford with the French teams, even in those days, is inspiring. Their British team's organisation and expertise made Confidis look like a small cycling club. David Brailsford and the British contingent convinced him that doping was not necessary, but too late. The entire Confidis team was implicated and Millar was caught and confessed.
David Brailsford's soundness is underlined by his risking his entire reputation and career by taking a personal stand on Millar's behalf - organising and paying out of his own packet for psychiatric help as Millar's world imploded..
He describes hitting the rocks in vivid detail. And then his gradual climb back to top level cycling with Saunier Duval, a small, very supportive and friendly Spanish team and then back to top level performance with Garmin - unfortunately never with Sky who have a policy of proven clean riders only.
Millar became the reformed alcoholic - an eloquent and forceful member of WADA - the world drugs authority.
A fascinating read.
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on 13 August 2011
This book encompases the part of sport that could not easily be explained or described in any other way than the way it has been portrayed in this book.

It has needed the personal and very touching, emotional experience of the author, to give this excellent description of the turmoil and excitment that is, for most of us, the 'Tour de France'. My question over the years of being a fanatic through the televised programmes, has been 'how do they do it?' Now I know!

However, it is not only the 'Tour de France' that is featured in this book, it is the capture of the lives and times of the cyclists and the surrounding regions in which they have been part of a culture that has been integrated into this wonderfully moving tale of woe, heartbreak and some laughter.

I could not read it quickly enough, I now want to stand on the side of the road at the Madeleine, preferably watching the riders, because it now means something, as it has to so many. Read this book, it is wonderful.
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on 12 October 2011
I have to confess that I'd been a little sniffy about David Millar since his doping scandal. Plus, I don't think he interviews very well on the TV - a slightly odd character. But this book is a complete revelation. The book goes into huge detail about his early life and what led to his downfall. For someone like me who loves cycling, it is just fascinating to read all about one horrible day in the Tour in 2010 when he nearly gave up - something that would be covered in seconds on the TV, but is recounted in amazing and fascinating detail in this book.

I used to feel that David Millar should have been made an example of, and banned for life - I absolutely don't believe that now. I know it's easy to say, but he's not like a stupid Ricco or a denier like Landis and Virenque - he confessed when he was arrested and rebuilt himself painfully.

This is a no-holds barred account of his downfall and his rise back to a fulfilling life, and is simply a superb read for any cycling fan. Well done, Dave !
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on 21 June 2011
I had this pre-ordered for nearly two years, but it has been well worth the wait. Largely self-authored, according to what I have read, this is a beautifully written account by someone who really does have a story to tell. It reveals more about the doping era in pro-cycling than any number of enquiries or investigations could ever achieve. It also puts Millar's own misdemeanour into clear perspective. One of Britain's all-time greats, deserving of the status of 'legend' when he eventually retires, Millar may, with this book, have produced the greatest legacy of his career. Anything that beats it to the 2011 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award would have to be truly exceptional.
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on 5 December 2011
Apparently David Millar wrote most of this book himself and it gains authenticity for that. I was surprised that I ended up finding him such a sympathetic character, obviously knowing his history of drug cheating, but his revelations about the culture of road cycling, about the sheer matter-of-fact nature of doping and the way he has used his experiences as a positive to campaign for change were inspiring.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 10 June 2011
I've seen David Millar interviewed on TV many times and he comes across as a very decent, honest if slightly humourless and intense man. This has not always been the case as he states himself, being honest about previous dishonesty should have been cathartic but he may not have found writing this enthralling and important book as cathartic as it might have been but if it serves to inject (pun intended) some truth and self examination into big time pro cycling then it will have done him and the sport a huge favour. I just wonder though if he is being a bit naive or indulging in a bit of wishful thinking at least in his belief that most (surely not all) riders in the forthcoming tour de France will ride "clean". He hopes so,surely everyone with any interest in the sport hopes so, but after years of proven and suspected drug cheating there will be a cloud cast over the race that will take some shifting.

Mind you, he is not convinced that the drugs he took actually helped him, so he may be right. Mayve the drugs don't work. Despite having said above that he comes across as a bit humourless when interviewed there are numerous ironic and wittily mischevious moments recorded in this book so it is not all doom and gloom by any means.

I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in sport not just cycling, or indeed anyone interested in the human condition that drives men and woment close to and sometimes over the edge of competitiveness. I will be very surprised if this book doesn't make it onto the shortlist for the next sports or even biography book prize. It is that good.
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on 15 November 2011
I've always loved cycling as a recreational hobby. I've also enjoyed watching the pro racing when I can, and when it gets on TV - which is very rare in the UK - thankfully getting better now with ITV4 and Eurosport.

I am also a keen rugby afficiando, football too, in fact any sport really. I have to say this is one of the best sports autobiogs I have ever read.

It fits perfectly on 2 levels - firstly, the mind of the author. Secondly, the workings of the sport - whilst I knew that cycling was far more popular on the continent than it is in the UK, I don't think I realised just how big it is in terms of sponsorship investment, and the implied perils and pressures that go with that to get results.

And the salaries too - almost premiership football levels!!!

Hats of to David Millar. Will never be as famous as Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish etc but he is right up there with them in terms of ability and guts.

And he can't ride in the Olympics after all that?

Shame on the BOC. If ever they need a team captain / unselfish rider he is the man. He did the crime, he owned up when many others didn't, he served the time and practically went bankrupt over it too.

We've all messed up at times - that's life.

One word sums it all up,

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on 23 August 2011
I loved the journey I took with David Millar through this book. The moments of excitment as he achieves his dreams; the moments of devastation as I realised how cheated I was by past sporting heroes of the Tour de France; the fascination at a cycling culture that fails to nurture the talent it holds and instead creates a system ripe for exploitation and cheating. But, ultimately, I was left with inspiration and hope that as long as people like David Millar exist in cycling there is a chance this great sport can be redeemed.
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on 3 July 2013
As he admits (or his wife told him), Millar was often 'a bit of a dick' - he doesn't come across as very self-aware even on reflection and it is quite a self-absorbed account. It gives some insight into pro-cycling, but where I think the Hamilton biog is better is that Hamilton explains why he thinks he's such a strong cyclist (a willingness to push boundaries, take risks and absorb pain) - Millar didn't really analyse his own performance. As with the Hamilton, I still doubted the veracity of some of the details - 'I was clean when I won this, but not when I won this...' Some of the chronology is a bit difficult to follow, but I loved the bit on Brailsford who was there for the drugs bust. Very readable.
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on 8 January 2012
As a cyclesport fan I read a lot of biographies of the great riders, trying to understand what make them different from us recreational or club cyclists (other than God given talent and a huge "engine").

This book is one of the best I've read, comparable to laurent Fignon's biography, which was very insightful. Although a Scot, I was previously not a great fan of Millar, though respect his achievements since his return.

The book changed my view of him and I now understand him to be a very intelligent, complex character, blessed and perhaps cursed by a fabulous talent but also full of self doubt.

As the difference between great cyclists would seem to be how much one is prepared to hurt oneself and how confident one is, this book gives an insight into someone who has the ability to suffer but, for various reasons, at crucial times lacked the confidence needed to really fulfil his potential.

The descent into doping is elegantly detailed and the reader (even if strongly anti doping) gets an understanding of the forces leading David down the slippery path.

His redemption is also well described and gives all of us a view of how finally believing in oneself can change a person around.

Having finished this book I felt I understood the demons affecting David at the lowest points of his life and how his innate intelligence and self analysis and understanding (as well as some good friends) helped him turn around.

If you've read "A Rough Ride" you may feel you know all there is to know about doping in the major stage races. Depite suffering more (DM having had further to fall than Paul Kimmage), this book doesn't have the inherent bitterness of Kimmage's book.

It is as honest, but perhaps blames others less.

One of the best cycling biographies I've read - "Chapeau!"
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