By Justin Davis, Agence France Presse
David Millar concedes finishing on the podium at the week-long Dauphiné Criterium would prove a considerable morale boost to his Garmin-Transitions squad ahead of its biggest test of the season next month.
But the 33-year-old Scot insists that finding the best form to help get American teammate Christian Vande Velde into the Tour de France yellow jersey next month is his main priority.
Millar has had a solid season so far, winning the Three Days of La Panne, a stage in the Criterium International and, brimming with confidence, also tried his hand at some tough one-day classics.
On the Tour his experience will be crucial to Vande Velde, who benefited from Millar’s help on his way to fourth and eighth place finishes in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
But despite Millar being given a fair crack at the overall title this week, with a live possibility of winning the stage 3 time trial on Wednesday and testing his climbing legs in the days that follow, he insists his personal aims are secondary.
“My job is to help get Christian into the best possible position in the GC (general classification) of the Tour for the third week in the Pyrenees,” said Millar.
“That’s kind of what I’m focusing all my racing on at the moment.
“My main aim this week is the time trial tomorrow, it suits me much better than a (shorter) prologue.
“But there are a few guys who will be right up there. There’s Alberto (Contador), (Bert) Grabsch and also (Janez) Brajkovic.”
Millar also believes Contador, could follow up his Dauphiné prologue win with victory in the time trial.
“Even though most people think of him as a climber I consider Contador to be the best time triallist in the world along with Fabian Cancellara, and I think he’ll go really well.”
Millar finished third in the Dauphiné‘s main time trial last year, and had it not been for him “screwing up” on a key stage he said he would have done far better than his ninth place overall.
But with some tough mountain stages up ahead, including the race’s first visit to the legendary 21-hairpin bends of the Alpe d’Huez on Saturday, the Scot isn’t setting his sights too high.
“I want to do my maximum in the mountains, I think the stages and the level of racing suit me,” added Millar.
“I’ve got a bit better at climbing in recent years, more resilient, and it’s mostly a mental thing that’s probably down to the fact I’ve got a bit more freedom in races.
“But we’ll see. Apart from Alberto, there’s a few guys in the field who will be quite solid.
“It would be finish on the podium here just to give myself, and the team, a bit of a morale boost going into the Tour.
“But I’m not going to give it everything just to finish fifth. If that’s going to be the case then I’ll definitely try to win a stage.”