ANNONAY, France — David Millar, a reformed "ex-doper," won a stage at the Tour de France on Friday, saying his victory is proof riders can win cleanly.
His British compatriot, Bradley Wiggins, is of like mind. Wiggins, who holds the overall lead, is looking to not only win the race when it ends July 22 but win over cycling fans troubled by the sport's long history with drugs.
"I do want to start building bridges to prove that I'm doing this off bread and water. … So if I can be as open and as honest as possible, then hopefully that will go some way to gaining people's trust," he said.
Millar's victory and Wiggins' assertions came exactly 45 years after Tom Simpson, the first Briton to wear yellow, died on the slopes of the Mont Ventoux after using a lethal mix of amphetamines and alcohol.
"It's particularly poignant that I win the day of this anniversary because I'm an ex-doper, I made mistakes," said Millar, 35. "It's a nice kind of full circle that I've now won today a clean rider — after making the same mistakes that Tommy made."
Millar, who rides for the U.S. Garmin-Sharp team, has been cycling's most vocal critic of doping for years. He says he learned hard lessons after "making a mess" of his life through drugs.
He won the Tour's 12th and longest stage by leading a five-rider breakaway as the race left the Alps. The 140-mile ride from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay-Davezieux featured two big climbs, but did not change the top of the standings because Wiggins and his main rivals finished together.
Millar, while riding for the French team Cofidis, was banned from cycling for two years in 2004 after using the banned blood booster EPO — once the drug of choice for cycling cheats.
"I'm an ex-doper and I'm clean now, and I want to show everyone that it's possible to win clean on the Tour," Millar said.