If we interviewed ‘Jamesie’ McCallum, we couldn’t very well neglect his friend and training partner, Britain’s most northerly professional rider – Wick’s Evan Oliphant.
This will be his ninth professional season and his second with Raleigh.
A prolific winner in Scotland as an amateur on the road, time trials, track and grass, Oliphant turned professional for the Recycling team in 2005 – getting his pro career off to a great start with wins in the East Yorkshire Classic and in Warnambool in Australia.
That was also the year when he took second place on the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain to Russian ‘Iron Man’ Serguei Ivanov.
The following year he remained with Recycling taking the Beaumont Trophy, a stage and third on GC in New Zealand’s Tour of Wellington and second on a stage of Langkawi to Venezuelan ‘super climber’ Jose Serpa.
The name on the jersey for 2007 was DFL; and there was a stage in the Tour of Tasmania and third on GC in the Australian Tour of the Bright to Richie Porte – not to mention a tough European spring campaign.
Joining the ill-starred Plowman Craven team for 2008 he took a stage in the Mersey Two-Day and clutch of top domestic placings including the Girvan and Ras.
In 2009 he started the season with Plowman but moved to home team Endura when the English team folded.
The season highlight was probably second in Columbia’s Caracol de Pista behind Leonardo Duque – but ahead of a certain Rigoberto Uran in third spot.
He stayed with Endura into 2010 taking podiums and top ten placings at the highest level in the UK as well as 11th in the Commonwealth Games time trial.
There was more of the same on the UK scene, still with Endura, for 2011 plus a team time trial win in the Czech Cycling Tour and a top ten on stage one of Paris-Correze.
Last season it was Reg Harris’s former sponsor, Raleigh for Oliphant and a cosmopolitan programme which saw him take a second place on a Tour of Mexico stage, ride strongly in the tough Tour de Beauce in Canada as well as take a top 20 in the dirt road Tour of the Battenkill in the US.
VeloVeritas caught up with him shortly after the British Madison Championships in Manchester, where he rode to fifth spot with Raleigh team-mate, Russell Hampton.
A cosmo year, Evan?
“Yeah, Beauce is a pretty tough tour – certainly harder that a British Premier but not as hard as the Tour of Britain.
“Mexico was hard due to the high altitude we were racing at.
“Battenkill is a good race, but it’s a long way to go for a one day race and like in the Rutland there’s a big luck factor involved.”
Which ride are you happiest with for 2012?
“That second place in Mexico, I think.
“I was annoyed not to win as the guy who won – (29 year-old Thomas Rabou the Netherlands & US team Competitive Cyclist) had been swinging off the back for the last 10 or 15 K and had sat on.
“I was happy with how I rode in Beauce, too.”
Any ‘negs’ from 2012?
“Riding the Tour Series criteriums!
“I wasn’t supposed to do them and hadn’t done specific training for them – I lost weight during that period with all the travelling and not eating properly – usually in motorway services.
“My top end power was down and that’s what you need for the crits.”
Back to Raleigh for 2013?
“There have been a lot of changes – as far as UK riders go, just me, Graham Briggs, Russell Hampton and Matt Holmes remains from 2012.
“Blain, the big French guys stays; we have two French guys, four Aussies, a Canadian and a Kiwi.
“I think it’s a pretty strong line up.
“We have a training camp in Mallorca at the end of January, with our first race the Tour of Haut Var which is the 16th and 17th of February.
“With Blain being the local boy in that race it means the team gets a start – it’ll be a nice hard beginning to the year!
How did the madison champs go?
“I was riding with Russell Hampton; he’s not ridden the track much recently and was struggling with top-end speed and we finished up fifth.
“But the main thing was that we stayed upright!
“I rode the Revolution meeting in the evening and got top five placings in the points and scratch.”
But no cyclo-cross for you on Sunday?
“I’ve never really fancied getting wet and muddy in a skinsuit in the middle of winter!
Has the Glasgow velodrome changed your training methods?
“I’ve been across to the track at least once every week to train, usually Tuesday and Thursday – and the occasional Sunday.
“It’s going to be great for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games – we didn’t have the benefit of that before the Delhi Games.
“I really feel the benefit from it in my pedalling action.”
Things are getting closer to a 12 month season all the time.
“After the Tour of Britain I had five weeks off and I didn’t touch the bike much. I also had an easy week between Christmas and New Year.
“I’m definitely in better shape this year than I was last year at the same point – the track work has really helped.”
Nine seasons as a pro – how have things changed in the UK?
“There are less and less big races – when I rode for Recycling back in 2005 there were a dozen good races, now there’s half of that, although the standard of racing is higher.
“Back then there were only a half a dozen guys who would be up there – but there are much more, now.
“There are more teams and they’re at a higher level – which I put down to more guys being full time.
“Another factor is that UK trade teams go abroad more now and expose themselves to a higher level of competition – when they come back their standard has improved.”
Glasgow 2014 – are you looking to ride road and track?
“Yes – one of the reasons I rode the madison champs was that a top five in a British championship is one of the Games selection criteria.
“I’d like to ride the points, scratch and road race in Glasgow – that’s why I want to ride the track all this year, to keep my hand in.
“I spent a lot of time on the track in Australia before the 2006 Games in Melbourne and that worked well for me.”
Are you noticing a ‘Brad Effect?’
“Not out on the road, day-to-day.
“But at Stage One of the Tour of Britain there was the biggest and craziest crowd I’ve ever seen at a bike race – the first miles were just mad.
“There are more folks out on bikes, you see that when you’re out training – there are more people riding bikes, but not competitively, I think that will take a year or two.”
“It’s probably best to say nothing, but it’s definitely not good for the sport.
“And I think it’s bad for Bradley Wiggins – by association.”
Last question, if you rode for Sky and they gave 703 items of clothing – what would you do with them?
“eBay comes to mind – or maybe wear each thing once, not bother washing it and give it away?”
With thanks to Evan and wishing him all the best for 2013.