Clifford [throwing away newspaper in disgust]: I can’t believe it. Now David Millar’s even appearing in the Daily Telegraph!
Nigel: What’s wrong with David Millar? I like him. His autobiography is great.
Clifford [aghast]: What’s wrong with him? Look at him! Dishing out “fashion tips” to cyclists! Starting his own clothing range! A Maserati “brand ambassador”, whatever that is! I mean, what kind of a cyclist would promote a car-maker?
Nigel: Well, Robert Millar rode for Peugeot. So did Tom Simpson. Isn’t he your hero?
Clifford [spluttering]: That’s not the same at all! Peugeot also made bicycles!
Nigel: Maybe. But Simpson liked fancy motors all right, and fancy clothes too, just like David Millar does. And so what if he’s careful about kit? No one is fussier than you about what you can and can’t wear on the bike. Look, in the Telegraph he says “you don’t want to look like you’ve just picked up random bits of crap out of a rubbish dump.” He sounds just like you, Clifford.
Clifford [bristling]: He also says you’ve got to “find some style synergy”, and “your sunglasses reflect your personality”. He even says it’s OK to have a saddlebag. A saddlebag, Nigel! How can he be a real cyclist? And he’s mates with Brailsford! You know how I feel about British Cycling.
Nigel: I’m surprised at you, Clifford. David Millar is a product of the great British local cycling club scene. He never got any help from British Cycling, because back then it didn’t exist, at least not in the form it does today. Then, he went to Europe and made it all on his own – again, just like Robert Millar and Tom Simpson. Sounds to me like he did everything right.
Clifford: Will you please stop comparing him to Tommy Simpson? I mean, it’s not as if he won the rainbow jersey, is it?
Nigel: Weeeell . . . technically, in 2003 he was World Time Trial Champion, at least for a while.
Clifford [testily]: Yes, but he was stripped of that because he was doping.
Nigel: Quite. A bit like, um, Tom Simpson. Amphetamines, wasn’t it?
Clifford: There were no controls then. Everyone was at it!
Nigel [raising his eyebrows]: That’s what they all say. And even if the 2003 TT doesn’t count, Cav probably wouldn’t have won the road race in 2011 if Millar hadn’t been leading the team. That’s another thing you’re always on about – how new riders don’t understand race strategy. You can’t accuse Millar of that.
Clifford: But Nigel, he’s such a prat. Everyone thinks so. I know he came through the French system, but everyone there used to laugh at him as well. They called him “Le Dandy”.
Nigel: I’m not defending him. I’m just trying to work something out.
Nigel: Well, he’s a Maserati Brand Ambassador and has his own ridiculous clothing range. But that just means he likes fancy cars and clothes - just like Tom Simpson. He’s a poseur and a bit of a prat, with his “style synergy” and psychoanalytical sunglasses. But he won a rainbow jersey, and Tour stages too. Just like Tom Simpson. He’s a known doper. Just like Tom Simpson. He’s mates with Dave Brailsford, but he made his way from his local cycle club through the European system on his own, outside British Cycling. He’s an expert time-triallist and understands racecraft. And his final event as a professional was a hill climb in Surrey. You can’t get much more old-school than that.
Clifford: So what?
Nigel: So . . . is he Old Cycling, or New Cycling?
Clifford [long pause]: I don’t know. All I know is I disapprove of him.
Nigel: I had a feeling you were going to say that.
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