By Andrew Hood
David Millar – fresh off his victory in the prologue at Paris-Nice – says he’s taking aim at the overall title at next month’s Tour de Georgia.
The Saunier Duval-Prodir rider – who vows he’s left behind his cheating ways after serving a two-year ban for admitting to French authorities he used EPO – says Georgia is an ideal race for his characteristics.
“I’m going for the overall at Georgia,” said Millar, who ended up 12th overall at the Race to the Sun. “It’s a good race for me. I’m feeling good at Paris-Nice, things went better than expected there.”
First, he’s going to take in a few classics before flying across the pond. He’ll start Milan-San Remo on Saturday for the third time of his career (“I love it”) and then take a crack at the Tour of Flanders, the first time he’s bounded across the cobbles.
“I’ve never done it before and I’m up for it,” he said of Flanders. “Let’s see if we can’t get a [Saunier Duval] jersey up there and shock a few. That’s why I am doing De Panne first because I don’t want to just jump right into it.”
Saunier Duval-Prodir for Milan-San Remo
Riccardo Riccò, Fran Ventosos, Manuele Mori, Jesus del Nero, David Millar, Jose Alberto Benitez, Peter Mazur and Raivis Belohvosciks
Eki: Discovery’s lucky charm?
It seems new Discovery Channel sport director Viatcheslav Ekimov is bringing good fortune to the team whenever he shows up behind the wheel. According to a report on thepaceline.com from sport director Dirk Demol, Ekimov brings positive mojo to the races.
“I think we have a ‘good luck’ person on the director’s staff now! Eki has now participated in three big races in the car and we have won them all: the USPro Championship, the Tour of California, and now Paris-Nice,” Demol wrote. “I told Johan on the phone the other day that while he can’t be at every race, maybe we should make sure he is at the important ones!”
Demol also pointed out the team’s successful start to the 2007 campaign with eight wins so far, with overall victories at Paris-Nice and Tour of California, three stages at Paris-Nice, two at California and another at the Tour of Valencia.
Backstedt back for Castilla y León
The big Swede with speed – aka Magnus Backstedt – will return to competition Monday at the Vuelta a Castilla y León in northern Spain, his Liquigas team reported Friday.
The winner of the 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner is recovering from surgery for a melanoma and hopes to regain form to be a player in this year’s cobblestone classics.
UCI returns fire in war of words over ProTour
The war of e-mails between the grand tours and the UCI took another turn Friday as the two groups continue to lock horns over the future of the ProTour.
Earlier this week, Giro d’Italia director Angelo Zomegnan issued a statement via an e-mail mailing list to journalists stating that Tirreno-Adriatico, and other races organized by RCS Sport, shouldn’t be considered part of the ProTour series.
The UCI issued its own e-mail statement released on Friday:
“Concerning the message you have got from Mr. Zomegnan on March 20, the UCI wishes to point out the following:
“The agreement stipulates that, during the agreement, the organizers of the three Grand Tours are not bound by obligations, of any nature, regarding the concept and the brand of the UCI ProTour.
“The agreement stipulates also that it does not prejudge the rights and obligations of the parties or the legitimacy of their positions.
“This means that there is no obligation for the UCI to remove the races of the three organizers from the UCI ProTour calendar or to consider these races as not being on the UCI ProTour calendar.
“Mr. Zomegnan’s wish not to associate the Tirreno-Adriatico with any UCI ProTour initiative is not binding upon others.”