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PROFESSIONAL CAREER IN A NUTSHELL


Results:

Giro d’Italia x 5 
Vuelta Espana x 7
Tour de France x 12
World Championships RR x 11
World Championships TT x 9
Total days racing: 1057

Wins:

1997
1st Tour de L’Avenir Prologue

1998
1st Stage 3b Three Days of De Panne
1st Tour de L’Avenir Prologue
1st Stage 6 Tour de L’Avenir

1999
1st Manx International

2000
1st Stage 1 Tour de France
1st Stage 1b Route du Sud
Leader’s Jersey Tour de France

2001
Gold Medal TT Games of Small States of Europe
1st Stage 4 Euskal Bizikleta
1st GC Circuit de La Sarthe
1st Stage 3 Circuit de La Sarthe
1st Stage 4 Circuit de La Sarthe
1st GC Tour of Denmark
1st Stage 4 Tour of Denmark
1st Stage 1 Vuelta Espana
1st Stage 4 Vuelta Espana
Leader’s Jersey Vuelta Espana

2002
1st Stage 13 Tour de France

2003
1st GC Tour de Picardie
1st Prologue Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen
1st Stage 4 Vuelta Burgos
1st Stage 17 Vuelta Espana
1st Stage 19 Tour de France
Gold Medal World Champsionships TT

2006
1st Stage 14 Vuelta Espana
National Champion Individual Pursuit

2007
National Champion Road Race
National Champion TT
1st Prologue Paris-Nice
TdF Climbers Jersey for three days at Tour de France

2008
1st TTT Giro d’Italia

2009
1st Stage 20 Vuelta Espana

2010
1st GC Three Days of De Panne
1st Stage 3b Three Days of De Panne
1st Stage 2b Criterium International
1st Chrono des Nations
Gold Medal Commonwealth Games TT
Bronze Medal Commonwealth Games RR
Silver Medal World Champsionships TT

2011
1st Stage 21 Vuelta Espana
1st TTT Tour de France
1st Team Classification Tour de France
Leader’s Jersey Giro d’Italia

2012
1st Stage 12 Tour de France

Favourite Race:
I’m often asked this, and I mostly reply with the same answer, “It’s like being asked what’s your favourite film, or book, or artist is. It’s hard to answer because they’re subjective answers based on your mood at the time.” So, if I’m in a pensive, serious mood then I’d always say the Tour de France, as that was the race that captured my imagination and had the greatest affect on me. I loved it and everything about it; although that wasn’t to say it was my favourite race. That would have to be the Vuelta Espana, it always felt like an anti-Tour de France, great organisation, fantastic weather, fabulous roads and not many people to get in the way of it all. I always had a blast at the Vuelta, whereas the Tour came with a certain amount of stress and noise.

Hardest Race:
Any Grand Tour stage when you’re sick. Those have been days of pure, unadulterated, purgatory. In a one day race we don’t generally start or even attempt to finish if sick because it is a pointless exercise. On the other hand in a stage race, especially a Grand Tour, there is an obligation to finish the stage in hope of regaining health and being able to help the team further down the road. Oddly when you’re on form, even the hardest race in the worst weather, has the potential to be fun. 

Scariest Race:
Three Days of De Panne. There are few professional cyclists who will disagree with this, and the ones that do have probably never done it. No holds are barred, pavements, traffic islands, cycle paths, car parks, they all count as the race route in De Panne. Each racer in the peloton randomly chooses the fastest route, add to this crosswinds, rain, cobblestones and it is the perfect recipe for disaster, and ends up being exactly that for a handful of riders every one of the three days.  

Loveliest Race:
There a few, but the one I have fondest memories of is Route du Sud, a small stage race held in the South of France in and around the Pyrenees in the final days before the Tour de France. There is something about it that harks back to the old days of race organisation, everything thoroughly amateur yet perfectly organised. When I first started racing professional there were many races just like it, yet sadly, few remain.

Paris-Roubaix:
My nemesis through my career. In 1997, my very first year professional, Cyrille Guimard (my DS at Cofidis) called me up to do it in the days before. In hindsight a privilege and sign of respect, I didn’t see it that way and refused to ride as I considered myself unprepared, neither physically nor mentally. That set the tone for the rest of my career. It wasn’t until my final season that I completed it, although I nearly didn’t, it was my wife that told me, “David, you have to do one more lap…”

First Doping Win:
Vuelta Espana Prologue, 2001. I can remember not feeling much except relief that the drugs did work.  It was the definition of mixed emotions, I knew that I had become what I abhorred yet at the same time I was being treated like a star, and I didn’t like any of it. If I’d questioned it before then that day I realised for the first time that I’d fallen out of love of bike racing, it was no longer sport, it was business, and an ugly one at that.

First Clean Win After Comeback:
Vuelta Espana Stage 14 TT, 2006. My life had been a roller-coaster in the five years from that first doping win to this comeback win. With it everything changed. One thing was the same, the sense of relief, only this time it was for the right reasons, my deep belief that I could beat the best in the world on the biggest stage as a clean athlete was proven right. Even more so later when I learned of the continued doping going on around me at the time. I barely got to enjoy it as immediately I used it as soapbox to preach my belief that doping had to be eradicated and that a no-needle policy had to be introduced into not only cycling but all sport. It took me a further four years to make that happen, my position of influence on the World Anti-Doping Athlete’s Commission being the principal catalyst.  

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