We caught-up with Evan Oliphant at Stanstead Airport on Sunday night, en route to Edinburgh, on his way home from the Tour of Britain 2006.
A lift to the airport from the GB squad bound for Italia and a cheapo Easyjet flight meant he would be home just hours after racing in central London.
Tom Boonen went from villain to hero in 24 hours, winning the final stage to take his total of wins to 20 for the season so far.
Boonen’s controversial protest the day before, when he and his fellow Pro Tour riders staged a ‘go slow’, only racing for the last few kilometers, was forgotten as the charismatic big Belgian distanced Britain’s Roger Hammond and Mark Cavendish in the charge for the line.
Boonen and Co’s protest over race safety was apparently validated by events during the final stage when two race motor bikes collided and crashed into the crowd causing a number of injuries, some serious. Evan Oliphant was unaware of the severity of the incident due to his charge to catch the plane.
His feelings during the race had been that race safety wasn’t any worse or better than other races he had ridden The Pro Tour riders expect higher standards though and Danish pro Michael Morkov said to me that there had been occasions where there were ‘civilian’ cars dangerously mixed-up with the race.
How did today go?
“It went OK for us, Ben (Recycling team mate Ben Greenwood) took the only King of the Mountains points on offer so he got second place overall in the K o M. John (manager, Herety) said to me to get some TV time for our sponsor, so I was up the road for two and a half laps on the circuit with a Danish guy. He couldn’t come-through but at least I was live on TV.”
Boonen took the stage didn’t he?
“Yes, from Hammond (Roger, GB) and Cavendish (Mark, T-Mobile). Pedersen took the overall but that was on the cards all the way through the race.”
What were the crowds like in central London?
“They were huge, not just on the circuit but on the way-in too, I think they are the biggest crowds I’ve ever seen at any race.”
It looks like you are coming out of the race with good form then?
“Yes, but there are no races left. I was going to ride that stage race up at Inverness next weekend but it’s been cancelled. I’m going to concentrate on the track champs and the Trossachs time trial now I think.”
Is Recycling set to continue next season?
“I think so, but maybe on a smaller scale.”
Thanks for your time and insight for the last week Evan, and good luck for the remainder of the season.