Raleigh’s Evan Oliphant recently made some cycling history when he became the first Scotsman to win the Star Trophy – or as it’s known now, ‘The Premier Calendar.’
But ‘Star Trophy’ just sounds so much better.
The season long contest was first run in 1959 when the legendary John Perks won it the names engraved upon the silver demand respect – Les West, Hugh Porter, Phil Griffiths, Malcolm Elliott, Paul Curran and Russell Downing to name a few.
Robert Millar was well capable of winning it but knew that France was the place he should be so didn’t compete in the races necessary to get the points.
When ‘I were lad’ the Star Trophies always made the ‘Comic’ (Cycling Weekly – it was ‘Cycling & Mopeds when I first read it) front cover; but not now in these days of Sportivs, Sky, Wiggo and Chris Froome (we don’t say Froom*y or Froome D*g on this site.)
We thought we’d best have a word with the man who’s never far from the action.
We started by asking Evan if he was aware of the fact he was the first Scotsman to win it.
“Alistair Maclennan pointed that out; it was great to win it – even though it was only over six rounds.
“When it was the Star Trophy it was run off over as many as 27 races.
“You get 100 points for a win and 85 for second plus points for stages if it’s a stage race like The Reservoir.”
The Reservoir was the first one?
“Yeah, I won that but because of the stage results I came out of it second overall in the Premier rankings.”
“I was 15th – my worst result of the series but I took enough points to take the lead.”
Then The Beaumont and Stockton?
“I was 11th in the Beaumont – and third at Stockton.
“Before the season started If I’d had to pick the race I’d do worst in then it would have been the Stockton one because it’s flat.
“But we had five Raleighs in a 16 man break; I was riding for Graham Briggs but Ian Wilkinson won with me third.
2It was at that point I began to think that I could win it.”
“At that stage it looked liked Bialbolocki was the one person who could beat me for the overall.
“A break of six got away and I finished seventh with Bialoblocki eighth.
“Mike Northey went third at that stage because his results had been pretty consistent – a seventh, sixth and eleventh.”
And Ryedale was the last one?
“To beat me, Northey had to win, with me outside the top 12.
“We wanted to win that one but messed up – three got away, then another six but we only had one man up there.
“But with nine up the road that meant I’d won the series – Joe Perret, the ’25’ champion eventually took the win.
“I was pleased that I was up there in the sprints most rounds – normally my job is to lead out Graham Briggs over the last couple of K but this year I’ve been able to ride for myself.”
How was the support from the team?
“As the series went on it became apparent I had a real chance of winning it actually became the team’s main objective – so it was good, yes.”
Does it get you a pay rise?
“I hope so!”
And riding well on the road meant you could duck the crits?
“I did a few – I rode the ones on the Fridays night before Stockton, Wales and The Beaumont.
“I drove down with James McCallum on the Friday, rode the criterium on the Friday night then went for a ride on the road race circuit on the Saturday.
“I actually worked out well; the legs were sore in the crit with all the driving but by the Sunday they were fine.”
Has winning the Premier and being on the tele meant ‘the man in the street’ is aware of who you are?
“Not really; but the folks who are in the sport are aware.
“I walked into a bike shop the other day and there were folks in there who I didn’t know but they congratulated me on the win – which was nice.
“But on the road things are no different – drivers still trying to run you off the road !
“But maybe a lot of that is to do with the influx of new cyclists ?
“Some of them have maybe seen too much cycling on TV and don’t realise that it’s not the Tour and you can’t just ride where you want on the road.”
What did you think of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games circuit?
“I learned one thing – don’t start at the back!
“There was that hairpin after 50 metres and it took me the whole of the first lap just to get properly on terms.
“I’d just got up when Millar, Cav and Co. clipped off – I was still recovering from the effort so couldn’t get with them.
“It’s a good circuit though – and the crowds were great.
“The crowds were vast in London too – for the Surrey race on Sunday.”
Will it be track or road for the Games?
“Both; but I’ll be sacrificed on the road – we have David Millar and Andy Fenn who’s a big finisher.
“I think my best chance lies in the track; I’ve been close to the medals twice in the points and scratch.”
Will we see you in action at the British Track Champs?
“I’m undecided; they’re a few days after the Tour of Britain – but it’s not certain we’ll be riding the Tour, yet.
“When the Games were in Delhi I did the Tour of Britain and track Nationals first – and that was too much.
“I’ll be riding the track over the winter – last winter we had Scottish Cycling training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and the occasional Sunday night.
“It means you can get you road work done during the day but it gives you a really good work load for the day.”
Has Gary Coltman’s presence begun to be felt?
“He’s been in touch by email and think he plans to talk to us all on a one-to-one basis, soon.”
What does the rest of the season hold?
“Hopefully the Tour of Britain – and if we do that then we’ll going to Belgium to ride the pro kermises to prepare.
“I haven’t raced abroad much, this year – I was in France early season but at the time of the other trips that’s when the baby was arriving.
“But maybe that’s how I’ve been going so well because I’m not tired from all the traveling ?”
Let’s get political – what’s your take on the French Senate exposures?
“I think it’s good; when I raced in Belgium I raced against some of those guys – and now it’s apparent why I couldn’t compete with them.
“Their actions held a lot of clean riders back from reaching their full potential – so it’s right they should be exposed.”
And how is being a dad fitting in with being a pro?
“I think it’s made me adopt a better structure for my day – you have to me more organised.
“So yes, I’d recommend it!”