Although subtitled ‘The Fall and Rise of David Millar’ this excellent book in fact follows a far more rollercoaster route than that simplistic linear trajectory might suggest. Opening with the one-time cycling hero at the lowest possible point: alone in a cell and with his personal and professional life in tatters with room only for reflection. And reflection is what this memoir serves up by the spade load.
It could be easy to dismiss a book quite this painfully honest and, at times brutal in its examination of the world of pro cycling, as nothing more than an exercise in personal confession and by extension cathartic cleansing. That, though, could be rather reductive (despite the fact that Millar is confessing all) because the arguments that he puts forward about the dangers – and considerable advantages of – doping within professional sports are powerfully put and he is clearly not afraid of exploring the grey areas that even those of a ‘black and white’ disposition when it comes to cheating should be forced to admire.
In interview Millar can come across as both intense and somewhat humourless and it’s accurate to say that both those characteristics apply to Racing Through the Dark. That’s not to say that it isn’t thoroughly entertaining – it’s absolutely riveting at times – just don’t expect too many laughs along the way. Some have accused Millar of being naïve in his expectations of future TdF riders competing ‘clean’ but its more a case of him (genuinely we think) hoping that this could be the case. Andy why not? If anyone can articulate the (very) highs of pro cycling whilst also illuminating the darkest corners, it’s Millar.
This is not only one of the best cycling or sports books of the year, but one of the best books period.
Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar is published by Orion (ISBN-10: 1409114945) with an RRP of £18.99 – available from Amazon.co.uk