By Andrew Hood
World time trial champion David Millar says the 2004 Athens Olympics will overshadow the Tour de France in his season’s goals and is eyeing an appearance in track racing to bolster his chances.
“I competed in the Sydney Olympics and it was a great lesson for me,” Millar said in a press conference this month. “The Athens Olympics are now one of my biggest objectives from here on. The Tour de France is my second objective for next year, and the World Championships will come third.
“Sydney was a magnificent experience, and I learned a lot. I now know what to expect from the Olympics, and yes, there will be pressure on me, but I’m looking forward to it.”
The 26-year-old will be one of the favorites for the Olympic time trial on August18, but on November 29 he was on the Manchester Velodrome in his first serious track-racing debut as a first step toward making the British track team.
“That was my first serious experience of racing on the track and it was pretty intense,” Millar said on his web page. “It was fast, very fast, and it was a little hairy at times. I tried to stay near the front and just hit it on the last lap and was pretty chuffed to have won the first race. Afterwards I was really shaking, though, the rush was amazing.”
Millar went up against established track stars Bradley Wiggins, Rob Hayles, Chris Newton and Malcolm Elliott in front of 3,000 fans. He won the 10km derny and finished second in the devil elimination and fourth in the points race.
Millar’s next track race, part of the Revolution Series at the Manchester Velodrome, will be Jan. 24.
Valverde, Astarloa to race in Hong Kong
World champion Igor Astarloa and runner-up Alejandro Valverde are expected to race in early January in a criterium in Hong Kong, according to a report in the Spanish daily AS. Other top stars are expected to make the trip, which will include all expenses paid as well as a 60,000-euro prize for the winner.
UCI says yes to Fassa
Fassa Bortolo got an early Christmas present after the UCI cleared the team to join Division I status in the 2004 season.
The Italian team was part of the UCI’s “pending list” of teams released last week that hadn’t met requirements to be cleared for DI status next season. Other teams still waiting to file proper documents include U.S. Postal Service, Alessio, Domina Vacanze, Milaneza and Kelme. They teams have until a January 8 deadline or face Division II status for the upcoming season.
The 25 teams with D1 status include: Euskaltel-Euskadi, Islas Baleares, Seguros Liberty, Saunier Duval (Spanish); Gerolsteiner, T Mobile (German); Landbouwkredit, Lotto, Chocolade Jacques, Quick Step (Belgian); CSC (Danish); Ag2r, La Boulangere, Cofidis, Credit Agricole, Fdjeux.com, RAGT (French); Rabobank, Bankgiroloterij (Dutch); Phonak (Swiss); Lampre, De Nardi, Saeco and Vini Caldirola (Italian).