Former doper Millar quick to back Sky leader

David Millar has expressed sympathy for Chris Froome after the Team Sky man was immediately asked about doping when he took the yellow jersey in the 100th Tour de France.

Christopher Froome
Christopher Froome

The issue raised its ugly head in Froome’s first press conference as the Tour leader on Saturday night when he was asked if he was riding clean, with his stunning display on Ax 3 Domaines compared to the tactics of Lance Armstrong’s US Postal team in the late 1990s.

Froome responded in a calm fashion – unlike his team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins in similar situations last year.

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But Millar, who served a two-year ban for doping infractions, was more forceful on Twitter as he said it was unfair for the team to have “mud thrown at them when they work so hard to do it right”. Speaking before the start of Sunday’s stage nine of the Tour, the Scot – who has become a strong anti-doping campaigner since serving his own ban – said he had spoken out because he feels sorry for Froome.

“He’s dedicated his life to racing at the moment, he does everything right but (Team Sky) perhaps don’t defend themselves as well as they could. So I foolishly stepped in and did it.”

Team Sky have always maintained a strong anti-doping stance, and last year told all of their riders and staff to sign a pledge to say they had never doped or face being thrown off the squad.

Sir Dave Brailsford’s continued refusal to release power data relating to the team’s training methods has been used to point a finger at the team regarding transparency, but Millar believes that misses the point.

“Sky are impressive, they’ve transferred their knowledge from British cycling from their Olympic years into road cycling,” he said. “I think it’s impressive and we need to start copying them in a certain way. If we had their numbers, we would have a benchmark to aim for. We would be copying their training files, we’d have the targets and we’d know what we have to do to beat them.

“They don’t want the other teams to know what they have to do to beat them. If you have a recipe for training which works, why would they give away that recipe?”