Seeking out the Style, Craftsmanship, Tastes & Experience of a Good Life

Seeking out the Style, Craftsmanship, Tastes & Experience of a Good Life

David Millar Tour de france presenter

David Millar


David Millar reveals how he forged a lone path to the Tour de France, the struggle of climbing back to the top after falling into the depths of doping. And the latest instalment of his life story, his new brand CHPT3.

David Millar is charming and effortlessly cool. I immediately want to be his mate, but he exists on a different realm. Beneath his charismatic exterior is a rare focus, seemingly unwavering self-belief and a determination that only a few humans possess. 

Interview by Sam Clark

CHAPTER ONE: The Tour de France Dream

David Millar started racing BMX, but after a promising start, his bike was stolen. Unlike Mohamid Ali, who took up boxing when his bike was stolen, in case he ever met the theaves. David continued cycling and eagerly jumped on the next emerging trend, mountain biking. He remembers, ‘Road racing looked pedestrian compared to the thrill of mountain biking.’ 

SC: How did you get tempted away from the thrills of trails to the discipline and pain of the peloton?  
DM: Growing up I was all over the place, born in Scotland and lived there, Malta, England, Hong Kong. I was very much a child of the eighties, into BMX then mountain biking. When I was living in Hong Kong I met a couple of guys who were roadies. They told me about the Tour de France. They basically brainwashed me and I fell in love with the idea of the Tour. 

SC: How did you get from dreaming in Hong Kong, to the front of greatest bike race in the world? 
DM: Cycling wasn’t like it is now, it was a very cult sport. There was no system in the UK to support cycling. When I came back from Hong Kong, May 1995, to go to art college, I decided to defer my place and go to Belgium and race my bike. Which became madness. I moved to France when I was 18. I got in a club and it all kicked off from then on in. 

I just said right I’m going to do this and blew everything else off. I didn’t see any of my friends for 18 months. I was a pro within 19 months.

In hindsight it was pretty bonkers. I’d never even ridden over a 100 miles when I arrived in France.  

‘It was just a mad dream to do the Tour de France.’ 

David Millar Cptr3 Girona
David Millar riding in gear from his bike wear company, CHPT3

CHAPTER TWO: Downfall & Resurrection

David rode for Cofidis pro cycling team, winning, among other successes, 3 stages of the Tour de France. But in 2004 his life came to a crushing halt and he was given a 2 year ban for using EPO and cortisone. He documents the journey of his cycling achievements and the pressures that drove him to doping in his humblingly franc and candid book, Racing Through The Dark  (we highly recommend it). After receiving the ban, he moved from his home in Biarritz to Hayfield, on the edge of the Peak District. He says it was here, on climbs like Long Hill from Whaley Bridge that he, ‘got his life back’ and ‘rediscovered his love of cycling’. He returned to professional cycling, initially riding with the Spanish team, Saunier Duval–Prodir. Then movimg to  Garmin Slipstream where he seemed to finally find a home. He took on part ownership of the team and championed their anti-doping ethics.  

SC: Was it an easy decision to get back on a bike after the doping ban?
DM: I just wanted to fix things. I wanted to prove to myself and to everyone else that I could win clean and that I wasn’t just about the doping. I ultimately wanted to go back because I love the sport and I needed to fix the wrongs I had made. 

The second part of my career was much more enjoyable than the first part that’s for sure. I had almost exactly the same results in both halves so it all balanced out in the end so I’m quite proud of that. 

SC: What was different the second time around?
DM: Better teams. I didn’t have the same pressure and didn’t have to deal with doping all around me. I made a lot of friends. It was good fun and we just enjoyed it. 

David won stages in the Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and Giro d’Italia and is the first British rider to wear the leader’s jersey in all three.

David Millar racing Tour de France and Giro ditalia
David Millar racing at the 2007 Tour de France, Left, and in the Giro d’Italia, 2008, Right.

Chapter 3: David Millar, The Gentleman & Entrepreneur.

After retiring from pro racing in 2014, Millar hasn’t stepped far from the saddle. His life still revolves around bicycles. One of his many roles is mentoring riders for British Cycling, helping the transition from years of training and racing back and into civilian life. Every summer David is the ice-cool voice providing insights and analyses beside Ned Boulting commentating on the Tour de France for ITV.    

Back in 1995 in an interview for GQ magazine, David happened to mention that his dream car was the Maserati Ghibli II 2.8 GT. As job interviews go this was quite a vague and prolonged one, but around 20 years later his comments were rewarded with a role as Maserati ambassador. Through a wide grin of delight, he explained, ‘Maserati is the only car manufacturer really, that has kept that something special. When people see a Maserati they smile. A Maserati just makes you feel good doesn’t it?’ 

Maserati Eroica Britannia with David Millar
Me wishing all my rides were this cool! Cycling with David Millar and Maserati on the Eroica Britannia in Derbyshire.

SC: How did a stage of your life turn into a new company?
DM: After my racing career I had to figure out what I wanted to do. I thought how do I take everything I’ve learned in the last 18 years? I enjoy design and I’m creative and I had close relationships with some of my sponsors which involves a lot of product development, I’m going to keep riding my bike but there’s no cycling kit out there that I’d actually wear, it’s not really my style. So I went to my long-time sponsor, Castelli and said ‘Are you interested? I’m thinking about starting my own brand creating cycling clothes I’d wear, something an ex-pro would wear, something different.’ They were like yea let’s do it.  

‘It’s almost the stuff Castelli couldn’t make for their own line, a Castelli couture line.’

David gives a brief insite into his fastidious attention to detail and styling in his book, Racing Through The Dark. Unimpressed with the lycra time-trial suit sent by his team, David asks the mother of his team mate to spend the night taking-in and re-stitching the tight cut even tighter. The following day he wore the re-styled suit to his first Tour de France stage win.

CHPT3 David Millar
CHPT3 David Millar
CHPT3 David Millar

SC: How do you build such a solid product base for a new brand?
DM: We started with a series of collaborative products: Brooks for luggage and leather goods, POC helmets, a CHPT3 Brompton etc. Moving onto our own projects which can be anything as long as it falls within our values, our remit if you like. Just cool stuff really.

SC: Is the going to be a Chapter 4 to the David Millar story?
DM: CHPT3 is my endgame. I’m not creating it to sell. I want to do it the old-fashioned way and build it to last. With just a few people so it doesn’t turn into this thing with investors meetings and all these people where you lose control.

We just want to do something where we can create cool stuff.


For super cool, high-tech cycle clothing, collaborations with top bike brands, an exclusive Sporting Club and much more great stuff visit the CHPT3 website here.

David wearing CHPT3: courtesy of CHPT3
Maserati Eroica image from Maserati by Alex Whitehead

Want to ride as fast as David Millar? Try out these top aerodynamic tips from a wind tunnel expert

bike in a wind tunnel


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