Cycling Cycling

Blame game

Millar blasts team chief over prologue defeat

Posted: Sunday July 06, 2003 9:51 AM
Updated: Sunday July 06, 2003 9:51 AM

MEAUX, France (Reuters) -- David Millar has blamed his Cofidis team and its manager Alain Bondue for the mechanical incident which cost him victory in the Tour de France prologue.

Millar looked set to win the Tour's 6.5-km opener in Paris on Saturday when his chain came off before the last curve. He finished second 0.8 seconds behind Australian Bradley McGee

"It was not a problem with my chain ring, it was a problem with my team," said Millar on Sunday.

"Alain Bondue chooses the team's equipment so it's his problem. It all falls on his head and he has to take responsibility," added the Briton, who won the Tour prologue in 2000.

Team sources said Cofidis riders were using new aerodynamic chain rings which had caused problems in the Tour of Catalunya.

Other Cofidis riders like Luis Perez and David Moncoutie, also suffered mechanical problems in the prologue.

Millar said he had had enough.

"I damned killed everybody yesterday so I know I'm the strongest in the race at the moment," he said.

Ignored advice

Bondue rejected Millar's allegations, saying the Cofidis team leader had made his own choice of equipment for the prologue and ignored advice to keep to traditional chain rings.

"When we saw that other Cofidis riders had problems with the new aerodynamic rings, I told David to change them back to the normal ones, but he refused," the Frenchman said.

Bondue added that Millar also removed his gear change on the front wheel to make his bike lighter.

"I told him to put it back but he wouldn't. I knew before the start that his chain would jump off," he said.

But Millar's future with Cofidis appeared to be in doubt amidst rumors that he had signed a provisional deal for next season with the U.S Postal team of four-times Tour champion Lance Armstrong.

Before the start of the season, Millar made it clear that he was not happy with the Cofidis system and that he was ready to leave if he did not obtain the results he thought he deserved.

"We have a wonderful sponsor. We have every chance of making it the best team in the world and that's what I want to do," Millar said.

"It depends on what happens in the team in the next three weeks," he added.

The incident during the prologue led to a reshuffle inside the Cofidis team. Francis van Londersele was put in charge of the sporting direction at the expense of Bondue, who will now be solely responsible for the logistics of the team.

Millar said the decision, made by Cofidis owner Francois Migraine, was a sanction against Bondue.

"That came from Migraine and from me. Migraine has now understood the problems with Cofidis. There have been the same problems for six or seven years. But it can change," the Briton insisted.

But Bondue said he was the one that asked for the reshuffle to take place.

"We just went back to the previous situation. I'm the team's boss and I was drawn into taking care of the sporting aspects but I can't do everything," he said.

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