Despite a clash with the Vuelta, the Tour of Britain boasts probably it’s strongest ever field.
Endura Racing’s Evan Oliphant is VeloVeritas man in the peloton.
We spoke to him after Vacansoleil’s stage 4 blitzkreig.
Goals for the race, Evan?
“I’m here as a domestique for Jack Bauer and Iker Camaño Ortuzar; he was really unlucky to puncture at the wrong time, today.
“But since Rob Partridge made the split and is lying eighth on GC we’re looking after him.”
Stage One? (Greipel)
“Into Blackpool, that was quite ‘cruisey’ it was always going to be a bunch gallop; It went over the Trough of Bowland but there was no split.
“Jack Bauer was in a break which went five minutes; but there were only three in it so it was never going to work.
“Sky and Columbia controlled it pretty tightly.”
Stage two? (Henderson)
“Into Stoke, that was a hard stage, a big tough loop.
“There was a split of 15 and we had Rob Partridge in it – Sky had three, but despite the fact that Henderson won they maybe didn’t play it the best way, they burned themselves up too much.
“Geraint Thomas apparently did a 10 kilometre spell to drive it clear but him and Brad Wiggins sat up before the finish.
“I was at 11 minutes that day.”
Stage three? (Albasini)
“That was into Swansea and the first 45 minutes or so were flat out; but I got in the break and we went to four minutes.
“Cam Meyer attacked us on a long drag before the climb and I was distanced on the over the top; but the two Columbia guys – Albasini and Martin – came past me on their way up and I latched on and got back up.
“They just nailed it with 15 K to go and nobody could do anything about it.
“I was wasted at the finish, I lost two-and-half minutes in about the same number of kilometres, over that Constitution Hill in Swansea.”
Stage four? (Poels)
“That was into Tynemouth and it went straight out of the box – there was a K o M at four K out.
“We had Iker in the break and he punctured, we tried to get him back but there was no way.
“The parcours were very hard, the gruppo was huge but there was even talk of us getting eliminated on the time cut – but it finished up at around a 20 minute deficit.”
Isn’t it tough jousting with Pro Tour teams on a diet of UK crits?
“I can tell the difference from when I rode the Tour of Britain for DFL; because I’d been racing in Europe it didn’t seem that hard.
“But we’ve got Rob Partridge in eighth on GC and MotorPoint guys are riding well.
“The Tour Series of crits in the UK is a big objective for home teams but it doesn’t prepare you for this.”
It’ll be good for your Game road race prep, though?
“I think I have a better chance of a medal on the track than on the road but the road race course in Delhi is pan flat – the total elevation is about half a metre!
“I think that the Games road race will just be one attack after another.”
And on the subject of ‘attacks,’ Vacansoleil have promised another day of them – VR is glad that it’s Evan riding and not us.