Our man in the peloton – Endura’s Evan Oliphant – took us through the rigours of The Med and Haut Var.
Murcia may have been no cake walk but it had a happy ending for Endura – taking the sprints jersey and numerous top ten finishes.
Here’s what Wick’s finest had to say…
You hit the ground running at Murcia, Evan.
“We were in the first break on the first day; Alex Blain was going for the mountains jersey but in the end he took the sprints jersey – which we defended, right through.”
Is it fair to say that Murcia was more controlled?
“The weather was much better so everyone wasn’t wanting to smash it so much to get it over and done with!
“Once the break of the day went we would cruise for an hour, that just never happened at The Med or Haut Var, it was flat out, all the time.”
Better weather, then?
“Every day was dry except the last one, I wore shorts every day – I had leg warmers on every day in France.”
How do the Murcia parcours compare to France?
“It’s pretty lumpy, the climbs aren’t as steep but they’re long but on the first day maybe the pace wasn’t as fierce.
“The second day they smashed it on the climbs though – Jack Bauer made the front group, that day.”
Wilkinson was going well.
“Yeah, three top tens.
“On the last day, the plan – as well as defending Alex’s sprint jersey – was for us to look after Ian in the finale and see if we could get him top three.
“It was a wide, fast run-in, but Sky went early and were swamped which upset our plans – in the sprints it’s all down to timing, just going at the right moment.”
Jack rode a sound TT.
“Considering he’d never been on a time trial bike until the night before.
“I was out with him to test it the night before and he was blasting along on the flat at 60 kph!
“I was looking forward to riding mine but we didn’t have one with us to fit me because of the changes we made to the race line ups.
“They have integrated seat posts so you have to have be the correct size.
“Jack had to wear Ross Creber‘s skinsuit because he only had his New Zealand champion’s one with him – Ross’s was way too small for him but it added to his aero-ness. Ross reckons that’s the fastest his skinsuit will ever travel!
“I’ve trained on my TT bike, it’s really nice but I think I’d better with small rather than medium.
“The skinsuits are nice, similar to last year but with the Equipe inserts.”
Were Columbia impressive in defence of Rabon?
“At the start of the last stage, Vacansoleil were trying to wrest the sprint jersey from us, but we had two or three marking their danger man.
“Eventually we got Alex in the break, so the pressure was off.
“Columbia collaborated with us when the break went, but they couldn’t let it go too far because there was a guy in there at only two minutes down.
“Rabobank were chasing for Graeme Brown and the break came back, but Alex attacked again before the sprint and took it.
“It was good to be working with Columbia – it shows we have a bit of respect there.”
“He didn’t do much, his team always rides in front of him – I think he was just there for the training kilometres.
“Ross was the youngest rider in the race so one day they had him on The Shack bus for a spot with Lance on ‘Planet Armstrong’ which is on Eurosport.” [Have a look at Ross on film here]
“No, I’m pretty happy with how i’ve come out of those races – I’m feeling good.
“Racing at that level has certainly brought us up; it’s done a perfect job for us – and we took more out of Murcia than Sky.”
Any dodgy Spanish hotel stories?
“No, we stayed in bungalows on a golf resort – it was good.
“The Shack were there but they stayed in the hotel.
“Gary Beckett (DS) did most of our cooking – it’s actually a good way to do things because you can have what you want to eat, when you want.”
The reality of the UK programme?
“I’m glad to be home – I was away for a month, so I was ready to get back.
“I did 30 hours a week for four weeks, I have to be happy with that – we have some good races coming up; The Reservoir, Doon Haem and then the Tro Bro Leon and Finisterre in France.”
The Commonwealth Games are in October – a long season for you.
“In 2009 I was racing from Majorca right through ’til Australia in the winter – it was the same when I was with DFL, I raced right through to the Tour of Tasmania.
“I’m planning a couple of weeks break in July and I’ll begin my serious build up for the Games after that – for the last Games we had a really quiet spell of racing for around three weeks mid-season and that let us recharge our batteries.”
And what do you miss most about Scotland, when you’re way?
“My fiancee, Annette.” [we knew he’d say that!]
“Haggis!” [that’s better!]
With thanks to Evan for his time and congratulations to Endura on a good showing in Murcia.