• David Millar: Still racing... but just for kicks. (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
For some, this point marks a chance to bask in the glory of what they've achieved, to wind down before the season begins anew. For others, this time of year could not be more stressful or daunting, writes Anthony Tan.
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11 Oct 2015 - 7:32 AM  UPDATED 11 Oct 2015 - 10:47 PM

On one side you have 22-year-old Esteban Chaves, who, after a breakthrough season and on the cusp of winning his first professional stage race at the Abu Dhabi Tour, has the cycling world at his feet.

Then there are the multitude of riders, some young as Chaves, some almost double his age, a number who are Australian, that are yet to sign a contract for the coming season, now just a few months away.

"They no longer become interesting or newsworthy because they've lost 'that magic' and, before too long, they become, well, just like us."

Can you imagine being in a profession which you know you are bloody good at - world-class, in fact - and one where you are admired and adulated, yet one where you're forced to justify your raison d'ĂȘtre every one to two years (or, like Chaves, who last month re-signed with Orica-GreenEDGE till 2018, three if you're lucky) simply to continue?

"When we stop training, we lose the magic. We still (can) ride bikes, but we will never get that (back).

"For us, it just goes, and that's why I think it's quite hard to deal with."

This is what British rider David Millar, who retired at the end of last season, had to come to terms with this year, who last week in Manchester, United Kindgom was promoting his new book The Racer, and spoke wlth journalist Richard Moore.

Moore suggests that to be at the top of your game in cycling (or any other sport, for that matter) you have to be self-obsessed, often at the expense of those around and close to you, to which Millar agreed. But when a professional athlete retires, you don't have that excuse anymore.

So, then, what do you have?

"You've lost everything you've done since you were a kid. Your fixed goals when it comes to race year. You're treated differently by people because you're doing something that is quite special - but you never really expect it to be like that. Then it all stops. Then you're supposed to fit back into doing what you've never done before. We're basically teenagers."

Occasionally, we find out what they're doing one, two, ten, twenty, or however many years on, but for the most part, unless they've become a sports director or team manager or journalist or pundit, they're all but forgotten. Lost in the ether that is life beyond cycling.

They no longer become interesting or newsworthy because they've lost 'that magic' and, before too long, they become... Well, they become just like us.

As much as I look forward to Chaves' progression and whether he one day realises his dream of winning the Tour de France ("I have one dream in my life. I started it when I was 12," he told reporters after winning the decisive stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour and thereby taking the race lead), and whether that will be with Orica-GreenEDGE, I also wonder what will become of those less fortunate, and where they might end up, hoping they'll be okay.

For someone with the intelligence of mind like Millar, I'm sure he will.