robert millarrobert millar

mince pies

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palmares | a funny guy | the stolen vuelta | a peiper's tale |the spanish years |
honour| the small yin | setting the record straight | millar on motorbikes | the book |
robert millar colnago c40 review | 1988 winning magazine interview | training | the outsider |
2008 interview | british road champion | robert on bradley | the 2011 tour de France

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robertmillar.net

very briefly, to make it easier to get to these pages, they can now be accessed through the domain robertmillar.net. exactly the same pages as you read at the moment, just a less convoluted way to get here.

posted tuesday 8th july 2008

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happy anniversary (sort of)

robert millar's tour bike

at the risk of being parochial, prejudiced and downright repetitive, despite sir bradley's historic victory in the 2012 tour de france, followed last year by that of chris froome, there were two historic moments that took place in uk cycling nearly thirty and thirty-one years ago.

robert millar's tour bike

though it's undoubtedly splitting hairs to point out that wiggo was born in gent and froome in kenya, the first british/scottish rider to take a mountain stage in the tour and follow it with a fourth place and king of the mountains jersey the following year, was born in glasgow. robert millar raced very much as an individual; not given to suffering fools gladly and rumoured to once have had a scary haircut to stop him from going to discos when he should have been taking things more seriously. he was one of the last of the mavericks. determined to become a top cyclist, no matter the odds stacked against a brit doing so, robert not only won the tour's polka dots, he did the same in both the vuelta and giro, coming perilously close to the top of the spanish podium in 1985.

both bradley wiggins and chris froome have taken victory using the very best in the way of equipment, with state of the art frames from pinarello, shimano's electronic shifting and the latest in cycling apparel developments. that doesn't totally separate them from the opposition, for they too have access to very similar technology, but it is all a far cry from what was available in millar's day. concrete evidence of this has recently been celebrated by the surfacing of reputedly millar's kom winning bike in billy bilsland's cycle shop sited just past the railway bridge, near glasgow green. robert's polka dot skin suit has long been displayed on a wall inside the shop, offering millar fans the world over, a place of pilgrimage. that it will be now joined by a carbon/alloy peugeot frame will surely only cement bilsland's on the international cycling map.

robert millar's tour bike

the story goes that the bicycle was sold to a collector by millar, but as robert says "Most of the TdF bikes would have been allocated to someone before the end of the Tour, especially if you were a stage winner or star of the show.  I know for a fact that all my bikes from the '84 TdF were sold before the end; one guy connected to a team sponsor told me he had bought one of the two carbon frames that were used. I've no idea if he got the stage winning bike or not." as robert also metioned, the same arrangement exists today. teams sell off bikes and equipment; if not, they go back to the sponsors/suppliers.

it doesn't take a technical genius or bicycle geek to realise that there is a substantial difference between today's equipment and that regarded as top of the tree in the early 1980s. "Those carbon frames were as light as you got at the time, lasting about three months before the stiffness went off and they got slightly whippy.  But even that wasn't a problem. It's not like they became dangerous, just a bit more comfortable." robert pointed out that in the accompanying photos, the top tube decals are missing. if it was one of the bikes he used, there would be his name or initials on it somewhere. however, "Bars and stem look like Cinelli 64s, so they look right, as does the Benotto tape. Weinmann brakes with Campag blocks. I would have had alloy toe-clips and titanium axle pedals, but quite often those details went missing before being passed on."

robert millar's tour bike

in common with the weight-weeniness that is a part of every pure climber, the bike features only one bottle cage. displaying a sense of recall that seems little short of uncanny ("I might have (had) OCD") he pointed out that the tyres would have been clement tubs; yellow label silks for the real stages, green label silk for the mountain-top finishes, always assuming it was possible to have a bike change just before the finish. in the time-trials, the team used dugast track tubulars.

nowadays, while bradley and chris both have use of the finest electronica shimano can provide, millar and team-mates were on mechanical and slightly industrial simplex. "The front changer wasn't great, flexing because it was plastic bodied, so you had to use it with a bit of care. It wouldn't change under load.
"The rear changer was interesting. It was also plastic bodied, but instead of using the steel jockey wheel cage that it originally came with, the mechanics fitted the cage from the all-alloy model in order to make it as light as possoble. In that combination, it was slightly lighter than the all alloy model."

the differences were not, however, confined to gear shifting. one of the components to display quite substantial improvements in the intervening thirty years are race quality wheels. nowadays it's not at all uncommon to see wheels with fewer spokes across both wheels than robert rode on one. and there are not many teams still employing alloy rims, with carbon fibre much more in evidence and favour. "Those wheels look like the standard 32 or 36 spoked wheels, built by the team mechanics. A normal race would have me using 32 spoked wheels, 36 for rough stuff and mountains, while smooth flat would have seen 28 spokes for the lighter riders. Like me."

robert millar's tour bike

aside from decals on the top tube often identifying both the rider and his nationality, riders from all of cycling's various eras have personalised their machines, not so much from an aesthetic point of view, more from the point of personal comfort. sponsorship was perhaps less prominent as is the case nowadays, but it was still in some cases, necessary to toe the line by disguising an un-sanctioned change. in robert's case, the saddle was one of those features, pointing out "I noticed there's a Selle Royale Turbo saddle fitted. It must have been one of the periods when I tried them; maybe it was a prototype of some sort or the team bent my ear. Normally I would have used a San Marco Concor, with careful use of stickers or marker pen if it wasn't a supplied part."

robert's career continued through to the ill-fated le groupement of 1995, saved by his winning the british national championship the same year. through subsequent years, he rode a wide variety of different bikes, including gazelles, lemonds and latterly, a celeste bianchi, yet through all those twists and turns, he can still recall just what those bikes were like "Yeah nice light bikes, as light as you got at the time and then pared down with alloy and titanium where possible, like stem bolts, brake pivots and chainwheel bolts. In fact anything that didn't need to be steel wouldn't have been.
"I think that's called marginal gains now."

robert millar's tour bike

i did point out to robert that the best i could remember from 1984 was the birth of my daughter. i sure as heck can't remember how many spokes were on my wheels, or indeed, what gears were hung about its heavy steel frame, at which point, he went into overdrive. "The gearing would have been 42/52 and 170mm cranks; Stronglight. Of course the 41 inner Campag ring that I procured from the rep. at the Worlds one year and used quite often, would never have been passed on to the commoners.
"Selle Italia saddle would have been set up to be level , San Marco Concor was set at 3mm down at the front . "Brake lever height probably set at straight along the bottom edge of the bars to the tip of lever . There was a trend to cut the last 20mm off the end of the drops on Cinellis, (something) I never did, coz it looked naff and your hand slipped off the end on big impacts. Tyre pressures? 7bar for the dry, 6.5 in the wet.
"Full alloy freewheel on mountain and TT stages. They made a slightly different noise to the normal all-steel freewheels. You could get away with alloy sprockets on the last two places on a steel body, but any more than that and it changed really poorly."

i did ask.

though i cannot deny a huge dollop of personal prejudice, i think it a marvellous testament to the place robert millar continues to hold in the modern day cyclist's psyche that the surfacing of his bike from 1984 still makes headlines in the mainstream cycling press. many current day riders who weren't even born when robert nabbed those polka dots in 1984, still cite him as a major influence, and he most certainly brought a substantial number of scots into the world of cycling, self included.

thanks to robert millar for help with this article. his tdf bike will be on display in billy bilsland's cycle shop at no. 176 in glasgow's saltmarket, near glasgow green. photos from road.cc

wednesday 15 january 2014

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millar pics

robert millar 1989

it's not often these days that new photos of robert find their way either to me or to anyone else. but thanks to the graces of martin mullholland, i have three previously unseen images from the late eighties and early nineties when robert rode for roger zannier's team z

the first image with robert wearing what passed for head protection in those days is of robert about to hit the summit of the dundee law in the tour of britain prologue. the second two were snapped at the 1991 tour de france during the time-trial at macon. note the saltire on the road on the top one.

robert millar 1991

many thanks to martin for sending.

robert millar 1991






































friday 20th september 2013

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the last king of scotland

the last king of scotland

james mccallum, the rapha condor rider who recently won the scottish road race championship was bestowed with the honorary title the king of scotland, and not just by me. it has, of course, no legal or regal validity, but under the circumstances, it seemed more than appropriate. though i pride myself on being thoroughly au fait with most aspects of contemporary cycle sport, i will confess to having paid little heed to these championships prior to mccallum's win, but at this time of those three weeks in july, weeks which will incorporate the notorious pau to luchon stage after which robert wore his first polka dot jersey, it is timeous to recall the last (or previous) king of scotland.

it saddens me to think that i had not considered this appellation myself, but i need fear not, for edinburgh illustrator, andy arthur, has done it for me, augmenting it with a particularly fine graphic displayed in adjacent fashion. though andy has yet to sort out a suitable webshop on which to sell his stylish artworks, he is amenable to e-mail requests for prints of the last king of scotland. 2013 will be the 30th anniversary of robert's first stage win at luchon de bagneres, and 2014 the 30th of his king of the mountains win and 4th place in the tour.

it's time to start thinking of appropriate wall coverings in celebration.

andy arthur

sunday 15th july 2012

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tour of britain 1989. stage four

robert millar

the appearance on youtube of this particular stage of the 1989 tour of britain has made at least one of my correspondents a happy man. featuring nowhere at all on the general classification at the start of the day, millar, riding for z peugeot nipped off on his own, subsequently joined by gianetti from helvetia swiss and gained a lead of over eleven minutes at one point. as is always the case in stage racing, his lead at the finish line had been whittled down somewhat, and he offered little challenge to his companion at the sprint, having confidently taken the yellow jersey away from irishman sean kelly.

interviewed by richard keys after the finish, millar attributed his breakaway and subsequent wearing of yellow, to having received some rather good news about the team the previous evening. having originally decided to go home ("there wasn't a plane available"), the news inspired him to "have a go". although unwilling to elucidate further at the time, the news that made all the difference was the team's signing of greg lemond for the 1990 season.

the video itself displays the superb climbing speed and style that millar displayed, remarkably reminiscent of pantani, if you don't mind me saying so.

stage four 1989 tour of britain

sunday 8th july 2012

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pau to bagneres-de-luchon

peugeot wool jersey

Robert Millar liked to refer to the sprinters and rouleurs as 'the animals'. His own graceful rhythm and smooth climbing style, on the other hand, made him a higher being - quite literally. Once described as a 'Dickensian chimney sweep' due to his slight appearance, the Scot was France's best amateur in 1979 when he rode with the ACBB club. He subsequently joined the pros at Peugeot and in his first Tour, in 1983, Millar broke away on the Peyresourde, leaving Colombia's Patrocinio Jiminez in his wake to become the first Briton to wear the polka dot jersey.
A year later, in 1984, he took the overall KOM title, defeating his main adversary Luis Herrera, another Colombian. One of the best climbers the sport has seen, Millar once remarked, 'I enjoy seeing people disappear behind me.'

rapha etape jersey

the commune of pau lives on the northern edge of the pyrenees, a range of mountains that straddles the border between france and spain. it's the capital of the french pyrenees-atlantiques departement, as well as that of the bearn region. it carries out local administrative tasks along with the thirteen neighbouring communes and the existence of the university de of pau and pays de l'adour ensures a reasonably high student population incorporated in the town's overall number of around 85,000. in the centre of the town is a substantially sized castle, the chateau de pau, famous for being the birthplace of france's 16th century king, henry iv and as having been napoleon's holiday home when in power.

bagneres-de-luchon, in tour de france terms, is 197km to the south east. more regularly referred to simply as luchon, it is around 140km southwest of toulouse, celebrated for its thermal springs, of which there are forty-eight, rising in caves that penetrate around 100 metres inside superbagneres mountain. it's also celebrated as a pretty trendy resort and home to a population of a mere 2,600 people.

rapha etape jersey

these two towns are, in cycling terms, separated by some of the most fearsome pyrenean climbs: the col d'aubisque, the col de tourmalet, the col d'aspin and the col de peyresourde, before descending to bagneres-de-luchon. it's the 16th stage in this year's race on 18th july, but it also constitutes the etape du tour acte two, a ride taking place four days previously on 14th july (acte one is on 8th july). taking into account the severity of those four massive mountains, there's every possibility that the peloton will find one or two etapists still valiantly attempting to finish, even though well outside their own time-limit.

twenty nine years ago, scotland's robert millar, taking part in his first tour de france, rode the very same route from pau to luchon (stage ten in that year's tour). riding in company with the colombian, patrocino jiminez and metauro mobil's lucien van impe, the latter was literally ridden off millar's back wheel. then, on the few remaining metres to the summit of the peyresourde, with pedro delgado closing on this leading pair, and a mere fifteen kilometres from the stage finish, millar, riding for peugeot, simply left jiminez standing with an acceleration that was not only staggering to watch, but left jiminez with nowhere to go but backwards.

sometimes, and we've all been there, you find yourself in a situation you hadn't expected to be in, one that offers a number of possibilities, not least of which is that of attacking for an unexpected victory. had robert planned on dropping jiminez on the peyresourde?

rapha etape jersey

"Yes. I had Pascal Simon who attacked the group behind so I could sit on Jiminez during the valley section just before the climb. That wore out the little Colombian, as it was windy. If I hadn't dropped him on the uphill, I was pretty sure to drop him on the downhill, or beat him in the sprint."

so it wasn't one of those delightful opporchancities that landed in his lap? "No. I had a plan."

robert opened a substantial gap on jiminez in a very short space of time, before completely burying himself all the way to the finish. he even had time to sneak a peugeot cap from his back pocket and place it on his head, then zip up the chequerboard peugeot jersey, before crossing the line with both arms stretched above his head in celebration of a definitive stage victory, comfortably ahead of a chasing pedro delgado. with that, he became the first briton to wear the king of the mountains jersey in the tour de france, a feat he repeated in 1984, but this time taking it all the way to paris.

with that first victory stage win in the pyrenees, did robert find those mountains more suited to his style of climbing, or was it simply a case of them endearing themselves more to each subsequent year's strategy?

rapha etape jersey

"I liked the Pyrenees more than the Alps, maybe because they usually came first in the lap of France and I was not worn out. I felt the air was slightly fresher, and though the roads were often rougher, they just seemed to suit me better.
"When I did races like the Dauphine or Tour De Suisse in the Alps, I was OK with the climbs so I think it was more a question of freshness and the natural adaptation to the first big mountains at the Tour. And that was usually the Pyrenees."

with a real chance that this year, a briton could once more stand on the podium in paris, this time on general classification, it behoves us well to remember the major steps made by previous british riders leading us to this point. until bradley wiggins reached fourth place in the 2009 tour de france, robert's fourth in 1984 was the best placing by a british/scottish rider in the history of the tour. with the tour revisiting this important, monumental stage this year, and installing it as the second of two etapes, rapha have produced the official jersey (in party with organisers, amaury sport organisation) not only looking towards the etape, but commemorating millar's historic stage win in 1983.

rapha etape jersey

though perhaps better known for their creative use of sportwool, the rapha etape acte two jersey is crafted from good old fashioned polyester, featuring a remarkably subtle nod to the chequerboard pattern that decorated the iconic peugeot jersey of yesteryear, including the inside of the jersey's collar. just below the collar atop the back of the jersey is a red stylised graphic of an eagle accompanied by the name millar. the colour red is significant in this context.

it seems truly inadequate of me to have confined this jersy to climbing the gravelly slope up past the rspb centre at aoradh farm, having found a way to scrabble past the two riders in front of me at the time. not quite managing to deal the devastating sort of blow that robert would have been proud of, i nonetheless reached the top first, which, in truth, isn't saying much. and rather than hammer on to the cottage at saligo, i sat up and waited for the others to catch up. the jersey's heritage is far greater than my ability to do it justice, but let it not be said that the spirit wasn't willing. there is pride in the wearing.

the grey and yellow hoops offer the legend etape du tour on the front, while the back proclaims the stage start and finish towns along with the date of this second of the etapes. there are the requisite three rear pockets and, in anticipation perhaps of an exhausting day in the saddle, a full length zip. no zipped rear pocket though. the fit (medium reviewed) is immaculate. whether or not you have any intention of pulverising those four climbs come 14th july, this is a jersey opportunity that simply cannot be ignored by any self-respecting robert millar fan. i have augmented mine with a millar feature of later years...

...a ponytail.

the official cycle jersey for the etape du tour act two, produced in a collaboration between rapha and amaury sport organisation is available in sizes from xs to xxl at a cost of £50. there is a similar offering for etape act 1, celebrating the talents of thierry claveyrolat.

rapha

sunday 1st july 2012

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the robert millar sportive ride

it was probably only a matter of time before a sportive ride came along to celebrate the scottish rider who brought more than just a few cyclists into the fold. with various other rides across the uk, europe and north america designed to do likewise for many other current and former professional riders of note, the surprise is perhaps that it took so long for the robert millar sportive ride to happen by.

based around kirkintilloch, near glasgow, the event took place on sunday, may 27th 2012, aiming to celebrate robert's fourth place and king of the mountains jersey in the 1984 tour de france. organisers, maximise sport, planned the course over roads and hills that they feel were used by millar as aids to the climbing prowess he displayed in the alps and pyrennees as well as in other races in the eighties and nineties. there were two routes on offer, one of 95 miles and a shorter verison covering 46 miles. david lang, of maximise sport, thought it to be one of the hardest sportives on the uk calendar.

profits from the event go to the braveheart fund and glasgow wheelers cc.

robert millar sportive

posted 22 march 2012

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the jersey has arrived

peugeot shell jersey

with so many replica jerseys on the market, it ought to be easy enough to slip over the barriers at the end of the tour or the giro and join in at the tail of the peloton without notice. assuming a flat stage, all eyes will be on cavendish anyway, and if you're dressed as a member of htc high road you could have received your cut of the prize money before anyone queries the team photo. granted, a mclaren venge might be a bit harder to acquire without raising suspicion, but the theory is sound.

however, not all wish to resort to subterfuge to experience their fifteen minutes of fame. some of us are content to constrain any emulation to that of the heroes of yesteryear, in this particular case, robert millar. prendas did have a very limited number of santini wool peugeot jerseys a few years ago, none of which would have fitted other than an italian child, but worth having for posterity in any case. cycling about on an old steel peugeot bicycle is not that hard to accomplish, but robert millardom was all but written off due to the appearance of british petroleum logos on each sleeve. those were more the tommy simpson era, and undoubtedly the fly in the ointment at hallowe'en fancy dress parties.

peugeot shell jersey

thankfully, mick and andy at prendas would probably not know how to rest on a laurel should one become available. in a seemingly never ending quest to satisfy our cute little pecadilloes, they have singl-handedly persuaded santini to produce a range of those famous peugeot jerseys with shell logos on each sleeve, thus completing the masquerade.

whether you deem it suitable to grant the barnet an early eighties perm to complete the facade, is a conversation between you and your steel peugeot.

having taken advantage of the above mentioned jersey, it would be unseemly to partake in other than a substantial ride around the principality, hoping to hear innocent bystanders say "was that...? no, couldn't have been" as you ascend scary gradients with feckless ease. robert millar mug but post ride, a large mug of banana flavoured recovery drink would surely be in order, and just to maintain the theme of the day, it should inhabit a robert millar mug. fortunately, co-operation between the excellent mr richard mitchelson and rouleur means that such is now at your disposal.

don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

the santini shell peugeot jersey is now available from prendas in sizes from xs to 6xl at a cost of £49.95 ($80) the robert millar mug can be ordered from rouleur at a mere £18.50 ($30)

prendas ciclismo | rouleur.cc

posted 24th may 2011

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richard mitchelson t-shirt

robert millar t-shirt

i have featured the work of richard mitchelson on these pages before, partly because i admire his wrk, and partly because of his skill in portraying robert in cartoon fashion in the pages of rouleur. his graphic of robert in king of the mountains polka dots has, till now, only been available as a large format poster at a none too friendly price, but justice has now been served, and that very same character has made it's way onto one of rouleur's infamous t-shirts depicting famous members of the historical peloton. robert is now up there with the greats: greg, fausto, felice marco et al, and for the paltry sum of only £30.

available in small, medium , large and extra large, you can order one of these direct from the rouleur website. you know you want one.

rouleur.cc

posted 28th january 2011

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pictures you haven't seen

robert millar in edinburgh

no real story here, but some rather fine photographs of robert taken in edinburgh by gordon smith and sent to me this past week. i am very grateful. the first is of robert in his days with dutch team tvm, at the start of the kelloggs tour in edinburgh.

robert millar in edinburgh

the other two photos are also in edinburgh taken during one of the much-loved city centre criteriums televised on channel four, at which time robert was riding for the french 'z' team. gordon believes the other 'z' rider in the third photo is joey mcloughlin.

robert millar in edinburgh

posted sunday 3 october 2010

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gottheteeshirt

getheteeshirt

if you are, unlike me, a frequenter of the cycling forums, you may have come across postings under the pseudonym gottheteeshirt, a fine nom de plume for britain's finest ever grand tour contender, robert millar. for while robert has no wish to be found, and is apparently content living his life the way he wants to, he keeps his eye on the ball, so to speak, and has waded in where he feels it necessary so to do, just to keep all the wannabees, doubters and true fans on the straight and narrow. this has, if anything, increased robert's standing within the contemporary cycling community; the man still has a lot to say of value, making a change from some of the drivel that occupies many of the competing threads on cycling forums.

he has also surfaced occasionally in recent issues of rouleur, and gave a fine tribute to his contemporary, the late laurent fignon on cyclingnews.com recently. so it really is little wonder that a great many of us still hold him in high esteem. it matters not one whit what robert is doing nowadays; he's the very guy who got hundreds, if not thousands into cycling and he is celebrated for his career achievements: king of the mountains in the tour, climber's jerseys in the vuelta and giro, and british national road champion. and even better, for some of us, he is scottish.

last year i produced a jersey to celebrate the 25th anniversary of robert's king of the mountains jersey in 1984. this year someone else is intent on producing an i've gottheteeshirt t-shirt featuring drawn illustrations by neil reed, and taken from freely authorised photographs by graham watson. costing £20 plus £3 postage and packing, all the profits are being donated to the braveheart fund.

getheteeshirt

it's robert's birthday on monday (13th september), and while it may take a whiley longer to have one of these delivered, it would be a nice gesture to order one and give robert a sort of birthday present with a difference. if you'd like to acquire something that will be a limited edition product that celebrates the career of britain and scotland's very best, send an e-mail to gettheteeshirt@aol.com, and payment details will be mailed as soon as all is finalised. remember, this is also benefiting scotland's braveheart fund.

posted friday 10 september 2010

twmp .........................................................................................................................................................................................................

likely coming to a t-shirt near you

robert millar t-shirt

currently the rouleur online shop, and indeed the rapha cycle club in clerkenwell road, london proffer a slection of tour heroes t-shirts, with caricatures of some of the greats portrayed by illustrator richard mitchelson. the present range consists of laurent fignon, greg lemond, marco pantani, felice gimondi, jose manuel fuente and eddy merckx, but if i am paying correct attention to richard's intentions, those are soon to be joined by a further four, one of which includes robert millar.

richard has kindly allowed reproduction of the caricature that will grace this shirt, and i offer it for your enjoyment. as soon as these are available, i'll let you know. the current versions retail at £30

posted friday 25 june 2010

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rouleur 16

robert millar by richard mitchelson

after successfully capturing an eddy merckx victory at the giro d'italia in his own inimitable style in a previous issue of rouleur, richard mitchelson has surpassed himself by animating the 1989 tour de france. that's the one sitting prettily in the history books due to greg lemond having beaten laurent fignon by a mere eight seconds, and ushered in the new technological age of cycling. if you have any luddite tendencies at all, greg's the guy to blame.

however, the 1989 tour is also famous for pedro delgado having missed the start of the prologue by some two minutes plus, and spending the next three weeks flogging himself harder than he might to finally stand on the third spot on the champs elysees. but for those of us solely interested in the man with the ponytail, spaniards are not our favourite nationality, so witnessing robert taking the finish ahead of delgado at the summit of the tourmalet has to be equally as memorable as those eight seconds.

naturally enough, to encapsulate three weeks in a handful of pages means wielding the illustrative hatchet rather forcefully, thus the start, finish and tourmalet are writ large in its pages. richard very kindly sent me the illustration used here of robert millar, and we can only hope that his caricature makes it to a t-short near us very soon.

rouleur 16 also features a fine piece on team 'z' by william fotheringham.

rouleur magazine | richard mitchelson

posted friday 5 february 2010

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the vuelta 1986

millar - pino

adrian bell at mousehold press kindly sent me this photograph of robert and alvaro pino taken in 1986. it's possible that the photo shows the start of the stage following the time trial, when pino took over the leader's jersey. interestingly, millar's jersey is not the spanish version of the tour's polka dot, but is the jersey awarded to the highest placed, non-spanish rider. pino went on to win the '86 race by 1'06" from millar. jose luis laguia took the climber's jersey, and sean kelly won the points.

posted sunday 24 january 2010

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british cycling hall of fame

to coincide with its fiftieth anniversary in february of 2010, british cycling assembled a panel of judges to select fifty individuals from the recent history of british cycling endeavour to be inducted into a hall of fame. with the possible exception of malcolm elliot, the list was intended not to include any currently racing individuals.

deservedly so, robert millar was one of those fifty, joined by fellow scot graeme obree. there will be a celebratory dinner in february 2010, though whether the fifty are invited to dine is unclear.

posted saturday 19 december 2009

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rouleur 13

rouleur issue 13

as we head towards the 25th anniversary of robert's king of the mountains victory in 1984, it is nice to see that i'm not the only one who values his contribution to british/scottish cycling. the current issue of rouleur contains a precis of stage 17 of that very tour in 1984 in robert's own words, as well as an appreciation of just what he achieved, by les woodland. if you're a millar fan, and i know that very many are, you owe it to yourselves to acquire a copy of the magazine. at £9 it's cheap at half the price.

and for those of you who may already have ordered a robert millar anniversary jersey, these are likely to appear at the end of july, rather than mid-june as i had originally intended, due to endura having more work to complete than they'd expected. i've closed the book on this since i need to finalise the order with endura. all those who have ordered will be notified when the jerseys arrive and you will be able to purchase online. thank you all for your interest, and i hope the real thing meets your expectations. i think it will.

rouleur.cc

posted saturday 6 june 2009

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robert on food 'n' stuff

meringues

this snippet comes from a 1992 edition of the comic and suggests that millar was ahead of his time as far as eating was concerned.

millar is one of the few vegetarians in the professional bunch, but as he explained, it's not because he hates meat, but because he feels he rides better that way. "it's not a principle - it's a personal thing. i've read a lot of books about it"

as well as meat, egg yolks are out. egg whites are ok. millar says "a lot of diet is what you don't eat, having enough willpower. but if you never eat anything, you crack up. you see so many guys who are good athletes and put so many restrictions on themselves, that they crack up."

millar gets his protein through cereals, fruit and amino acid supplements. "in a normal diet, you take vitamin supplements anyway: if you take a protein supplement, that's the same."

he also relies on fromage blanc, white cheese and dairy products, and uses protein supplements such as complan and protein plus. "i never have problems with protein levels in my blood."

for ten years, millar has been having regular full blood tests: every six weeks if possible, but because of racing commitments, it tends to work out at every eight weeks. "i have a personal doctor who gives me a prescription; i go to the lab and organise it. you can look at the results yourself and see what's happening."

vitamin and mineral levels, red and white blood cell counts are what he's looking at: " it's not as common as it should be. it's your own money, and when you're paying £100 a test, that's a lot. but it's better to spend it on prevention rather than cure."

he got the idea from hennie kuiper, who rode at peugeot with him in 1982 and 1983. "he had a german doctor - i realised how important it is, because you're not a machine, and things are going to go wrong: even when they're going right, they're on the brink of going wrong."

millar doesn't see a dark side to it: "it's better to be in good health and have an injection every day, than be sick in hospital. you're not paid to be sick - that's why a lot of pros don't last long. they have class, but not the health. unless you're better than everyone, you're getting a hammering every day from someone."

excerpted from a william fotheringham interview which first appeared in cycling weekly in april 1992

posted sunday 19 april 2009

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the high life dvd. bromley video £17.99

the high life dvd

i do not currently, nor have i ever, spent any time on the european continent, especially in the company of cycling greats from past or present, and their acolytes, to know whether the esteem in which many of them are currently held, compares favourably with that engendered towards robert millar. it's not normally the british/scottish way when it comes to cyclists. milar, during his racing career was famously asked by a uk journalist what he did for a real job.

at the braveheart dinner in late october this year, three items of millar memorabilia sold for figures in excess of prices paid for trinketry associated with mr armstrong. a framed and signed polka dot jersey from his championship year of 1984 reached a fabulous £3200 - even a modern representation of that peugeot jersey donated by mick and andy of prendas sold for more than £1000.

but lest you receive the impression that millar receives such adoration due to his propensity as a cash cow, author of in search of robert millar, richard moore, told me that even in paperback and after more than a year in publication, the book is still selling in the hundreds per week. regular readers will not be surprised that this hero-fest takes place in these yellow and black pixels - it's not for nothing that i own the domain robertmillar.net and a substantial collection of articles relating to his thirteen year professional career. i am not alone in this: having approached one of britain's finest cycling apparel purveyors in the hope that they may have been able to work towards a souvenir jersey to celebrate the 25th anniversary of millar's king of the mountains win in 1984, i received a large number of e-mails from millar fans across the world willing to spend their money in acquiring just such an item. the man, the cyclist, the champion is held in high esteem, in what seems to me at least, to be an order of magnitude higher than almost any other british sportsman in recent history. and all this towards a man who disappeared around the turn of the century.

in 1985, granada television followed millar through the season, possibly in the hope that robert would repeat the previous year's success. that, of course would have been the very stuff that movies are made of, and sadly millar's '85 tour never looked like approaching his magnificent 1984. the film, with its superb soundtrack by steve winwood, was aired on television in 1986 and subsequently released to an adoring fanbase on vhs video. it has long been out of print in this format, and its transition to the current media de jour - dvd - has taken substantially longer than any of us would have liked.

the high life dvd

when i started collecting and storing all the millar print that i could lay my hands on (ably supported by lance sanderson), i contacted david bromley of bromley video about the possibility of just such a product, his optimism made it seem that only a matter of months would pass before i, and a league of expectant fans would be holding the disc in our hands. sadly, for one reason or another, the gestation time has stretched longer than any of us would have liked - when we invited richard moore over to islay for the launch of the hardback of in search of... in june 2007, i had to acquire a dvd copy of the vhs tape to show at the event. the official release, at that time, was still a few months away.

however, all things come to those that wait, and our patience has been rewarded by the release of this single disc containing the original granada documentary, the millar feature from another of the bromley video stable the britpack, a short picture gallery and an interesting and revealing interview with richard moore. it seems that all our christmases have come at once - if there is a millar fan in your life, the brownie points received by placing a copy of this under the tree will last for an entire year. robert brought many present day cyclists into the fold by being a character of admiration, spiky personality and all. he may well have mellowed in that department over the years, but for all those who have not seen the high life before, have now been presented with a great treat. if you own a copy on videotape, it's not going to last forever...

if there were a national curriculum for aspiring cyclists, this would be compulsory source material.

bromleyvideo.com

posted on tuesday 9 december 2008

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braveheart auction 2008

king of the mountains

on saturday 25th october, at the braveheart annual dinner in the park hotel, kilmarnock, a 1984 king of the mountains polka dot jersey, donated and signed by robert millar, sold for £3,300, by far the largest sum paid for any auction item on the night. a signed le groupement jersey and hairnet crash hat, as well as a signed retro peugeot jersey donated by mick and andy at prendas, both sold for over £1000 each.

an excellent reminder of just how much respect is still held for scotland's finest ever road cyclist. and justly deserved. richard moore was on hand during the day to sell copies of in search of robert millar in paperback form, and said that the book is still selling remarkably well. but of course.

braveheartfund.com

posted sunday 26 october 2008

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13th september 2008 - happy 50th birthday robert millar

robert 1984

Robert Millar was born to William and Mary Millar in the family home, 4 Wellcroft Place, in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, at 6.15am on 13 September, 1958. Mary and Bill - as he was known - already had a son, Ian, born on 29 December, 1955. A daughter, Elizabeth, would follow on 29 January, 1962. At the time of Robert's birth his father's occupation was listed as an ironmongers' assistant. The couple had married on 30 March, 1955.

The Millars lived in tenement housing in the Gorbals, large parts of which were, by then, in a state of serious decay. The Millars' home was typical of the area: a four-storey sandstone tenement, with one large living room, including a kitchen, a bedroom and a toilet, but no bath.

excerpted from 'In Search of Robert Millar' by Richard Moore

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robert on youtube

when i started these pages as a self-styled guardian of the vault, in order to safeguard all the numerous articles and stories about robert millar, the only format was print. however, as many have observed, other media have invaded and brought us moving pictures of scotland's greatest ever cyclist. so now it becomes incumbent on robertmillar.net to list as many alternative media sources as i can find. for reasons of time, i'm starting small, with the list below. if you find more, e-mail and let me know.

a 1993 french tv mini-documentary following robert around glasgow, and meeting with his parents. (french language).
the high life: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 | part 7
stage 10 tour de france 1983 | stage 11 tour de france 1984 | stage 10 tour de france 1989
stage 11 tour de france 1993 | tour de france/vuelta medley | the wrong way - tour de france 1988
robert interviewed by phil ligget at 1986 tour | robert interviewed after his crash in the kelloggs tour
robert being interviewed in 1984 by scots pop singer, barbara dickson. (you'll need real player for this one). | stage four 1989 tour of britain

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the robert millar interview

robert millar

one of the very best aspects of writing thewashingmachinepost is the huge increase in my prospective peer group; there are many of you out there that i have been privileged to meet, either in person or via e-mail contact. and in so doing, i learn more about cycling and the people who are as obsessed with it all as i am. and as in pretty much all walks of life, this meeting of people leads to meeting people who know people. and that leads to all sort of exciting results in oh so many ways.one such thread is now ensconced in its place of honour on robertmillar.net, but in my humble opinion, it's an important enough series of pixels to flag up on thewashingmachinepost main page. and before any of you ask, i have no idea where robert is; the interview was conducted through the auspices of a respected third party. i like what i've read, and i hope you'll enjoy it too.

read the interview here

posted on tuesday 15 july

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in search of robert millar - the return

in search of robert millar

amazing to think that it's a year since the publication of the hardback of richard moore's 'in search of robert millar', but indeed it is. so, as is the way in the world of publishing, that now is the time for the paperback version.

harpersports released the paperback (softcover anyone?) on june 2nd 2008 for those of you who vowed never to spend money on a hardback, when the paperback is bound to arrive eventually. this version costs £8.99, and has had an afterword added to bring some things up to date. there is also a complete millar palmares preceding an excellent index.

and although it's not strictly a robert millar matter, on june 16th harpersport will also publish richard's follow up, featuring yet another top scottish cyclist, chris hoy. 'heroes, villains and velodromes' follows the fame and fortunes of hoy up until the recent manchester track world championships - effectively the build up to the beijing olympics later this year. you will love every word, scottish or not.

form an orderly queue now.

posted saturday 7th june 2008

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the eyes have it

oakley frogskins

the april 2008 issue of cycle sport features a history of oakley cycle glasses and the riders who have worn their oddly named eyewear. unsurprisingly, the snippet featuring robert millar runs contrary to the norm:

"during the 1990 season, millar won the dauphine wearing the offending article, which clashed horrifically with his fluorescent z jersey.
in the early 1990s, when millar rode for the z team with greg lemond, he was approached by an oakley agent interested in doing a deal with the scottish rider. the agent opened a briefcase of oakley's glasses and millar sifted through them, making uncomplimentary noises about most models.
that was, until he came across a pair of frogskins - oakley's homage to the rayban, but which bore more than a passing resemblance to a pair of national health service specs.
"millar was taken with them. 'oh, they're not for wearing on the bike,' said the oakley rep. that was enough for millar. he took them, and wore them on the bike."

nuff said.

posted saturday 22 march 2008

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read the book review here

in search of robert millar

author richard moore, writer of the 'honour' article in these very pages, has written a biography of robert entitled 'in search of robert millar'. the book is due for publication by harper collins on june 4 2007. richard has interviewed many of those closely, and not so closely, involved with robert's career, and with more than a modest amount of assistance from ex scottish pro brian smith.

judging by the amount of interest millar still generates on the cycling forums, harper collins could almost schedule a reprint now. click here for more details.

......................................................................................................................................................................................................... robert millar

the washingmachinepost takes great pride in creating pages dedicated to britain's and scotland's greatest ever pro bike rider. king of the mountains in the tour de france in 1984 and fourth overall, the highest placing by any british rider even now, twenty two years later. (it should also be noted that millar came third in the competition in 1983 and 1985, an achievement that seems almost to have been overlooked.)

robert used to work for procycling magazine as a journalist, adviser and bike tester and I may yet find the time to reprint some of robert's bike tests (read robert's colnago c40 test).

I must extend my debt of gratitude to cycle sport, cycling weekly, mousehold press, richard moore and rouleur for allowing me to 'reprint' much of the material seen here. and i need to give a special mention to lance sanderson, robert z millarwho not only sent me the short piece below, but a number of pictures of robert that i didn't have. they have now been peppered throughout the articles in this section.
In 1984 I won a 'Fibre de Carbone' Peugeot bike, but it wasn't exactly, and I mean exactly,the same spec. as my hero's. I contacted Robert again for a Simplex SLJ 5500 rear mech. after RJ Chicken importers quoted me something like £150 for the same piece ! He very kindly gave one to Sean Yates who, when briefly returning to the UK, posted it to me. A very generous gift, and I wish I could convey my outstanding gratitude to the respect-deserving-fellow-countryman

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rouleur four - march 2007

rapha's designer journal of cycling, rouleur features a double page spread of robert in panasonic gear along with an article entitled 'the eagle of the gorbals' by william fotheringham. and it gives a nice plug for 'in search of..' by richard moore. coincidentally there is also a multi-page feature on ernesto colnago and his bikes.

do you need any more reasons to buy?

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the brit pack

britpack

meanwhile, david bromley sent me a copy of 'the brit pack - a history of british riders in the tour de france' double disc dvd. released 2003, there is an entire video chapter about robert in the tour in 1983 and excellent footage and interviews during his crowning year in 1984. there is also, incidentally, some yellow jersey podium footage of robert at the kelloggs tour of britain during a feature on fellow brit, malcolm elliot.

a full review of this dvd is on thewashingmachinepost, but if you're a millar fan - this is worth the price of admission alone (£31.99).

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there's training, and there's training

the following couple of paragraphs appear as the introduction to an article in rouleur magazine (issue 2) entitled 'cafe cultured' by will fotheringham. publisher and owner of rapha, simon mottram has very kindly given permission for reproduction here. this sums robert up very succinctly...

as with so many sides of cycling, it was robert millar who put the difference between british and continental attitudes to the bike in a nutshell. why stop for a cup of tea when out training, asked the former king of the mountains, when you could have one when you got home? either you were training or you weren't.

millar was not averse to the odd gateau. there was a cake shop halfway between the airport in paris and his home in the eastern france town of troyes where he would stop on the way home: to celebrate if he had gone well, to raise morale if he had fallen apart. but the thing was, the cake had its place: either you were training, or you weren't.

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if you've arrived at this page from a search link, click here. to get the whole monty.

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palmares | a funny guy | the stolen vuelta | a peiper's tale |the spanish years |
honour| the small yin | setting the record straight | millar on motorbikes | the book |
robert millar colnago c40 review | 1988 winning magazine interview | training | the outsider |
2008 interview | british road champion | robert on bradley

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