Thursday, 1 March 2012

David Millar - Racing Through The Dark - Book Review

I'll start this review of this book I recently read with a bit of honesty.  I have never been a fan of David Millar.  I could go further and say I've never liked him.  Normally, I am very supportive of our British riders, viewing them as the under dogs in a competitive domain that we never until recently dominated.  Yet Millar was someone I just couldn't warm to, at least not in seen interviews or stories I'd heard about him.  He came across as arrogant, a pre Madonna, a young man with fame going to his head, and off the rails.   His exile from the sport for taking EPO came of no surprise to me and I was pleased that he was removed from the sport and I didn't welcome his return with open arms.  I know I wasn't alone.

Its is probably strange then that I should even read this autobiography.  This just so happened to come onto my desk at my library and I couldn't resist it, I'm always a sucker for stories on doping in cycling.   Perhaps this book could change my own opinion of him.

David Millars book starts a long way from the excitement, glitz and glamour of Tour races and wealthy life style but in Biarritz police cell.  Millar stands stripped of his dignity, his dream career and left with doubt and unknowing of his future as a caught out cycle EPO abuser.

The book then takes us back in time to Davids early life, from here it continues on a moral journey with a battle within not only cycling, but also himself and those around him.  This takes him through a period in cycling history when the usage of EPO was rife and how eventually he would become involved by an unforgiving cyle and money world.

It is a powerful and gripping read and gives a great insight to the secrative world of cycling.  Millar is totally frank about the people he meets, quick to praise strong friendships and those who stood by him, briefly mentioning Lance Armstrong and Bradley Wiggins.

The later part of the book deals more with his come back to sport a seamingly changed man and his now strong stance against drugs within cycling.

This is certainly a book every cyclist should read, and has changed my mind about the real David Millar.  Certainly the person he was is hard to like, but as I learnt more from him about himself and cycling the more my opinions were changed.  By the end of the book Millar not only makes me like him but actually reforms my faith in cycling as a whole.  That yes, there are those that cheat but in racing you can win clean, you can even race a whole tour clean, and that there are now teams through in house doping that are the new future for the sport.  A cleaner sport. And I for one couldn't welcome that more.



As a distinct non-fan of Millar--I always felt his wah-wahing was just crocodile tears and it's not like he would've come forward or stopped if he hadn't been busted--I really appreciate your reviewing this book. Still don't know if I can bear to read it (I've got ex-attempted-doper Basso's autobio to go through) but it's great to have one's perceptions shaken up by your insights. Thanks!

Yes I approached the book with pretty much the same feelings you have for him. I do feel its all believable too and not an attempt to suck us and fools us like Floyd Landis book after he got caught.

No he probably wouldn't have come clean however, *spoiler alert* he had only used EPO during one year of his career. He had stopped dopping but was still caught out due to his team mates, not due to a negative test.

He also hold a firm opinion that even if Lance didn't dope he should have done more to help the sport and has told him so. For that alone I can't help but like him that touch bit more!

Mmmmm now Basso's book might make an interesting read...

I always liked David, he wasn't afraid to give his two cents worth about a particular stage in a race or someone who screwed up. I was devastated when he tested positive, but happy he has turned his life around and now a mentor to younger cyclists. I wish him well in the future.

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