As David Millar approaches his final season as a professional cyclist you would imagine he’ll be in winter training as we speak, working hard towards the kind of fitness that will help him go out with, if not a bang, then at least a fizz or a crackle. However, I read recently that training plans had been disrupted by an unfortunate coming together with a low doorway in an old building – the impact of cranium on brick giving Millar a nasty concussion. This is proof, surely, that the time has come to make helmets compulsory for pro cyclists AT ALL TIMES!
As a man who prides himself on behaving with a bit of class and style wherever possible, Millar himself suggested it was perhaps not his finest hour, saying: ‘suffered a concussion leaving my hotel Sunday; walked into a door frame that was a bit too small to fit me through. Not my coolest move’.
Although a man of his experience won’t need reminding, the life of a professional sportsman is a precarious business, where months of hard work can be undone in one mildly embarrassing blink of an eye. As he approaches his final season he will no doubt have a few ideal scenarios running through his mind as to how he will sign off; maybe another stage win at one of the Grand Tours, a medal at the Commonwealth Games, or a bold and flamboyant attack in one of the Spring Classics. But pro cyclists are forever crashing and suffering broken collar bones, fractured elbows, cracked ribs…you name it…and judging by his recent doorway related injury he clearly needs to be on his guard away from the bike too. Lets hope there are no more freak accidents waiting to jump out and scupper his final victory lap on the pro circuit and, more importantly, ruin his cool.
Sport is full of examples of bizarre and unfortunate injuries playing havoc with careers. There are stories of sportspeople falling in the shower, dropping jars of salad cream on their feet, putting their backs out playing with the kids and breaking legs snowboarding or jet skiing – for sportspeople, it seems, whenever they’re not doing whatever it is they are paid to do, the world becomes a minefield of mishap and misadventure.
Suppose Millar spends the winter living like a monk, training like Froome, and psyching himself up like a Californian fitness guru, only to self-sabotage his final year by either hitting the deck on a greasy winter road, or getting involved in the kind of freak accident that might leave him chasing form and playing catch up until autumn. Further jeopardy is added by the fact that he is to be followed by cameras during his final flourish, as the ‘David Millar Project’ promises to be give us a close up view of life in the peloton. It would be a cruel end should injury strike, in fact, he’d probably have to rev himself up for one more year just to fulfil his contractual obligations as a budding movie star.
But I’m sure Millar’s close encounter with a hotel door frame has done enough to focus the mind and put him on full alert for garden rakes to stand on, men wandering around carrying long planks of wood or ladders, holes in the ground to fall down, and black cats walking across his path. Perhaps he should watch a few old Laurel and Hardy or Buster Keaton movies to help him spot all those slapstick accidents out there waiting to happen.
My advice to David Millar…? Wrap yourself in cotton wool and be on the lookout for all kinds of potential comic mishap; probably best to avoid all those risky domestic chores, DIY jobs, gardening projects and buildings with low doorways…oh, and stick your helmet on and don’t take it off again until next October.