Cycling is a sport steeped in the tradition of style. There’s no denying it. From the days of miners and farmers escaping the hardships of a life spent toiling in harsh and filthy conditions either under or above ground, through Coppi and his Cosa Nostra-esque garb and swagger, Merckx and De Vlaeminck’s 70s sideburns, to Cipo and his many hits and misses both on and off the bike, there have always been riders who just look the part. I don’t hesitate to add David Millar’s name to that list as a modern day doyen of cycling style.
While we’re all wrapped up in farewells and handing out plaudits, let’s not forget that the curtain is about to be lowered on the long and storied, some may say sullied, career of this polarising British rider. Yes, we all know what he did. We have either accepted it and re-accepted him, or possibly still hold him in contempt. To me, he was always a classy Pro with a fluid riding style, a constant time trial threat, a worthy wearer of the Maillot Jaune and Maglia Rosa, a multiple stage winner in all three Grand Tours. Nothing more, nothing less. Not a fan, more an observer and moderate admirer.
Off the bike, however, Millar’s style is something I’m definitely a fan of. Maybe it’s because of his inherent Britishness that enables him to pull off the array of casual, smart, almost foppish looks which he does so well. Crisp collared shirts, tailored suits, pastel polos, smart shoes, just the right balance between ostentatious and sensible accessories. In the peloton, you could usually rely on him to be largely Rule compliant (and even if he wasn’t, he’d somehow manage to get a pass with ease). Being a tall and thin guy myself, his dress sense and attention to detail is not the worst template to work from. Especially as I’ll never pedal a bike as well as he did.
I think cycling has always had a tradition of being a bit dapper, especially back in the day. Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil and that older generation were renowned for being suave and sophisticated gentlemen off the bike–that’s something I was enchanted by. They always looked so cool. Cycling is based so much on form, on aesthetics, on class–the way you carry yourself on the bike, the sort of technique you have.
David Millar via
Chapeau Mr Millar.