Evan starts a new chapter with Raleigh.

It’s hard to believe but this will be Evan Oliphant’s eighth season as a professional.

It was back in 2005 when he first pulled on a Recycling jersey; he won the East Yorkshire Classic that year and grabbed second place to Serguei Ivanov on stage four of the Tour of Britain.

The highlight of his second year with Recycling was a win in the Beaumont Trophy.

DFL was home for 2007 and there was a stage win in the Tour of Tasmania to brighten up his palmares.

Plowman Craven seemed a solid bet for 2008 and his best was a stage win in the Mersey Two-Day.

Unfortunately, the team went the same way as the nice looking but floppy frames they rode and folded in 2009.

Endura threw a lifeline in June and Evan took a top ten in the British Road Race Championship to go with his top 30 in the Australian Champs back at the start of the year.

[pullquote]‘Reg rides a Raleigh’[/pullquote]

He remained with Endura through 2010, taking his Look to a top dozen finish in the Commonwealth Games time trial in Delhi.

Last season saw his usual domination of the Scottish scene continue and a strong 11th place on GC in Paris-Correze.

For 2012 there’s a new name on his jersey – but it’s an old name, really.

‘Reg rides a Raleigh’ the posters used to say, back in the days when Reg Harris enjoyed more mainstream fame – as world professional sprint champion – than Cav or Wiggo do.

We caught up with Evan at a weak moment — he was just back from a five hour ‘death run’ into the wilds of northern Fife with Ben Greenwood.

Eight seasons — what’s the biggest change in UK racing, Evan?

“The standard is much higher — at the end of races back in 05/06 there would only be one or two left at the finish.

“But there are a lot more people at a higher level, these days — back then with Recycling we’d often finish one, two, three and four.

“That doesn’t happen now.”

What was your highlight of 2011?

“Paris-Correze, I was ninth on stage one and 11th overall – the DS, Alex Sans Vega said to me; ‘you go well in these races, why don’t you ride abroad, more often?’

“I replied that it wasn’t down to me; it was down to the team.

“I was placed with the ride because it came off a diet of UK racing — although I knew I had good legs.”

The Raleigh team is looking sharper this season, with a solid international programme.

Why Raleigh?

“Eddie White and Cherie Pridham spoke to me mid-season and asked if I was organised for 2012 — I thought I’d be back with Endura but told them I wasn’t sure what was happening.

“I kept it in mind and we spoke at the last Premier.

“Endura had said to me that I should keep an eye out for something but no one actually said that I wasn’t getting a ride for 2012.

“But I’m happy with the move because I’ll have more international racing.”

What are the goals for 2012?

“I’m very motivated; it’s like that when you join a new team — a fresh start.

“I’m very keen and want to get up there in the international events — and win a Premier, again.”

Has there been a team training camp?

“We were in Mallorca for 11 days, the weather was grim to start with, minus two with rain and snow — the thing was, the weather was nice in Scotland when we left.

“It meant we couldn’t go up into the hills — there was one day I had seven layers on.

“But the last few days the weather was nice and despite the conditions I notched up 32 hours in one week — that’s the biggest week of training I’ve ever done.”

Mallorca is a great team camp destination - normally!

What was your first race?

“We rode the Ster van Zwolle in Holland, that’s the opening classic of their season — Tobyn Horton got eighth but it was his first time getting a proper lead out and he wasn’t used to it.

“The Dutch guys are crazy; they take huge risks to move up one place.

“Then we rode the Soens at Aintree in the pouring rain — it was freezing!

“Next up is the Kattekoers in Belgium (Evan would finish 63rd after three ‘mechanicals’ with Horton again the team’s best in 24th) and after that it’s the Tour of Mexico over eight days.

“Then we’re back for the first two Premiers, the Dengie Marshes and Doon Hame.

“We also have a ride in the Tour of the Battenkill in the USA — their version of Paris-Roubaix, 124 miles with a lot of dirt road sectors.

“Then there’ll be the Tour de Beauce in Canada which, from what I’ve heard, should suit me.

“There will be less Scottish races in the programme this year, that’s certain.”

Has your training changed over the years?

“Definitely, I never used to do intervals before — I reckoned I got speed from riding the track.

“But now I do turbo sessions — that came from training with Jason MacIntyre.

“If I’m riding a race with say five climbs then I’ll do efforts to replicate that — Jason always said that before you go out on the bike you have to ask yourself; ‘what is the purpose of this ride?’”

Do you do much in the gym, these days?

“I do core work with the swiss ball but for strength I do big gear over load sessions on hills.

“As I said, I always ask myself; ‘why am I doing this ride, today?’”

Do you have a coach?

“No, I coach myself, I don’t think I need one — the main reason most folks have a coach is for motivation.

“My motivation is strong so I don’t need one for that purpose — and I know now what works for me.”

As well as being an experienced professional bike rider, Evan is an accomplished piper.

But you still do miles — that was five hours, today.

“Yes, you must have ‘base’ but you have to schedule in recovery too.

“When I trained with Iker Camano last season he’d cruise in training but make specific efforts on climbs — you can’t come back wasted every day or you’ll be unable to train the next day.”

What’s your favourite race?

“The Lincoln GP, especially now that they’ve lengthened it by two laps — that’ll make a big difference in my favour.

“It’s the closest you’ll get to a continental race in the UK with the big crowds on the cobbled climb.”

What about Jonathan Tiernan Locke’s start to 2012?

“It certainly means I don’t feel as bad now about him beating me for the Ryedale, last year!”

And if you could change one thing about UK racing?

“Finish races in towns.

“And if you’re running a crit on the Saturday night, have a road race the next day — all of the riders are there, anyway.

“UK teams are very criterium oriented; but that’s what I like about Raleigh we can handle both the crits and the road races.”

With thanks to Evan — but watch that beef out there in Mexico, ma boy!

Images:©TeamRaleigh.