Milne: ‘I’ll never get to wear that (stars and stripes) jersey on the starting line’

Sean Milne will likely be declared 2007 national crit champion after Kirk O'Bee's disqualification. But the late honor will deny Milne the privilege of racing in the stars-and-stripes jersey.

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Shawn Milne, who will likely be named the 2007 U.S. criterium champion following the disqualification of Kirk O’Bee’s results, has complicated feelings about the whole situation.

Milne, now 28, was O’Bee’s teammate on Healthnet-Maxxis in 2007, when O’Bee crowned U.S. champion in Downers Grove, Illinois. Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Martin Gilbert, a Canadian, won the race, but O’Bee was the first American.

On that rainy day in August, Milne was designated the team’s second protected sprinter, after O’Bee.

Shawn Milne career highlights

2009 Air Force Cycling Classic, Sean Milne
Milne won the 2009 Air Force Cycling Classic

1st, Air Force Cycling Classic, 2009
1st, KOM, San Dimas Stage Race, 2009
1st, Stage 5, Tour de Taiwan, 2008
1st, Exeter Criterium, 2008 and 2010
1st, Points Classification, Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, 2008
2nd Overall, Tour de Taiwan, 2008
2nd, Stage 6, Cascade Cycling Classic, 2008
3rd, Stage 3, Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, 2008
3rd, Stage 3, Tour de Taiwan, 2008
4th, Stage 4, Tour de Taiwan, 2008
4th, Stage 8, Tour de Taiwan, 2008
1st Overall, Tour de Taiwan, 2007
1st Overall Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic, 2006
1st, Stages 2 and 3, Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic, 2006
1st, Bank of America Invitational, 2006
1st, Stage 3, Nature Valley Grand Prix, 2005
1st, Stage 2, Trofeo Diputacion de Alicante, 2004

“We had two leadout trains,” Milne recalled Thursday. “Kirk was led out by Karl Menzies, who is about the best leadout guy in the country. Menzies dropped Kirk off in the last corner, with me on his wheel.

“I didn’t even want to try to come around him with the wet roads; I was afraid I would have taken all of us out.

“Everything worked out to a T. You really can’t be happier than doing everything the team director wants.

“You can say if (O’Bee) hadn’t been there, I would have won, but the race might have played out totally differently,” he said.

USA Cycling has not contacted Milne about the title. A USA Cycling spokesman told VeloNews Thursday that officials will make an announcement on the matter as soon as this afternoon.

Milne said he would be gratified with the honor, but the late prize means he will be deprived of the best part of being a national champion: the privilege of wearing the stars and stripes jersey — on the podium and in criteriums — for a year.

“What’s done is done. It kind of feels cool to think of myself as having been champion at one point in my career. But I’m never going to experience the joys of lining up at every crit in that jersey, unless I win another.

“People are saying, ‘you should have got more money, more endorsements.’ But it’s those experiences (of winning the title and wearing the jersey) that you remember, and nothing’s going to change that.”

Milne, who lives in Beverly, Massachusetts, is winding down his season with some cyclocross racing. He said he has not talked to O’Bee since O’Bee was fired from the Bissell team last summer. He remembers his former teammate used a lot of legal supplements.

“I never saw anything illegal. But he was very knowledgeable about the legal supplements. I assume if he was using something illegal it would have been hidden. It had happened to him before (O’Bee was previously suspended for doping in 2001), so it sounds like he’s just getting caught for something he did his whole career.”

Milne has raced for Team Type 1 for the past three seasons, but is looking for a new team for 2011. If he is awarded the 2007 championship, that might help his sponsor search, he concedes.

And the designation could earn him a call up at some criteriums as a former national champ, he said.

“Maybe, yeah. Maybe I’ll get that, we’ll see,” he said.