Miller Q&A: Leading the Route de France

Amanda Miller checks in after taking the lead from the breakaway in the nine-day Route de France

Amanda Miller leads the Route de France with five days remaining. Photo courtesy La Route de France
Amanda Miller (U.S. National Team) infiltrated a seven-woman break on Monday to take the leader’s jersey in stage 3 of the nine-day La Route de France stage race.

Miller, on loan from the Tibco-To the Top trade team, is a third-year pro and this is the 26-year-old’s first lead in a major international stage race. The former High Road rider is no stranger to the front, however, having won the best young rider’s jersey at both the 2011 Tour de l’Ardèche and the 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix, and represented the U.S. at the world championships each of the last two years.

Miller and six others rode to the line in Monday’s 130.7km stage, finishing 1:39 minutes ahead of the peloton. Miller holds a five-second lead after Tuesday’s 110.6km stage 4 into Pontault-Combault.

Before Tuesday’s stage, Miller spoke with VeloNews via email about her team and her race thus far.

VeloNews: How does it feel to be leading one of the biggest women’s races in the world just a few years removed from your collegiate days?
Amanda Miller: It feels great. I’ve worked pretty hard these last few years, so it’s nice to see things coming together.

VN: You stepped back a bit this year and re-joined Tibco and the national team. Have you felt like that was the right move up until now and how does this jersey change your perspective, if at all?
AM: I wouldn’t consider it stepping back. Tibco did a full European block of racing this spring, and we are coming back here (Europe) this fall. I’ve done some national team projects as well. There are several great races in the U.S., so it has been nice to race them again this year, as well as continue my progression in European racing.

VN: Are you out to prove that you belong in Europe full-time and is that something you’d like to accomplish?
AM: At the end of this season, I will have spent almost three months in Europe. That’s not much less than my season last year. I always try my hardest in races, whether it’s to win personally or help my teammates win. I’m not out to prove anything other than I’m a good bike racer.

VN: With the Olympics passed and worlds on the horizon, how would you rate the motivation in the peloton in France? What’s the environment been like in the bunch this week? Is there any Olympic hangover?
AM: It’s a smaller field since it does overlap with the Olympics. A lot of riders who participated in the Olympics are taking a break and gearing up for the rest of the season. However, not everyone made the Olympics, so there are still several strong riders in the field. Throw in some wind, hard stages, and a European peloton and you get tough stages just like any other race.

The environment has been good. Everyone is upbeat and motivated to race.

VN: You have over a minute on the ladies many would peg as the pre-race favorites. Have you imagined yourself in this position? How does this change the team’s and your approach to the race?
AM: There’s a lot of racing left and everyone is still really close in GC. It doesn’t change how we will approach the race. We still want to win the overall. Whether it’s with me or another rider from the team, is to be determined over the next stages. I’m going to do my best do keep the yellow jersey, but will be satisfied as long as it stays within the team.