The Giro was a wonderful race, no question; but whilst it’s charging across Italy everything else gets ignored – like the Scottish Road Race Championship, for example. The winner was – unsurprisingly – Raleigh’s Evan Oliphant.
VeloVeritas caught up with the man from Wick a few days after the race…
Congratulations, Evan – how many times have you won it, now?
“That was number six, if I get to the Commonwealth Games it’ll be my third time and of course it’s nice to go as Scottish Champion – which I have been on the last two occasions as well.”
Can you remember the first time you won?
“I was second to Jason Macintyre in 2004 and then in 2005 it was my turn to win – Jason and I took turns at winning it…
“This year was perhaps the hardest to win because I had to go with everything. If there was a group up the road, everyone just sat and looked at me.
“It can become a bit annoying but it got better as the race went on as the rest began to tire – with the programme I ride my endurance is good.
“Although I was a little tired after having ridden the Lincoln and two Tour Series rounds in the week before.”
Does the win mean much to Raleigh.
“They’re happy that I won but they wouldn’t be concerned if I didn’t ride it.
“Riding it meant that I missed the Aberstwyth Tour Series round – but I have Durham and Edinburgh coming up.”
What did you think of the course?
“I’d hoped to get up to Alford early enough to go round it in the car but didn’t manage so I wasn’t sure about the “big climb” everyone was talking about.
“We went up a climb but it wasn’t too tough and I thought; “is that it?”
“But the final climb is actually a hard one – I was down to 39 x 26 for it.
“James McCallum, Peter Murdoch and a Rigmar guy [Steven Lawley, ed.] were away going into it and I went across to them on my own – then attacked on the steep bit of the hill.
“The three of them were chasing me for the last five miles off the climb – and it was in to a head wind so I couldn’t relax.”
How has this season been for you?
“I won the second stage of the Tour of the Reservoir with the same move as I made to win last year.
“And I’ve been top ten in all of the other Premiers – I think I’m sixth overall.”
How many pro seasons is that now?
“I started with Recycling in 2004 so I guess that’s 10 seasons.
“It’s changed so much, the level is way higher.
“Back then there were only about five guys who you knew could win but now there are about 40.
“There are four Continental teams and a lot of full time guys, at least 40 – back then, us at Recycling were the only full timers.
“There’s a lot more money about now with the races being televised – but the only thing now is that if a break goes with one rider from each of those four Conti teams then that’s it.”
How does a good level Scottish race compare to a Premier?
“It’s faster in England but actually easier for me because I’m not out in the wind all the time.
“In a Premier though I’ll have to go to 700 or 800 watts for 30 seconds on a number of occasions.
“If I do that in Scotland then I’m well away.”
How’s the Tour Series going for Raleigh?
“Not as well as we’d like – Ian Wilkinson has been ill and Alex Blane crashed in the Lincoln.
“I’m looking forward to the Durham and Edinburgh rounds – they suit me because they have a hill on the circuit.”
What are you riding at the Games?
“It’s not confirmed that I’m going, yet – the team isn’t nominated until May 29th. [Evan is indeed named in the Scottish squad. ed.]
“But if I am selected I’ll be riding road and track.”
Assuming you are selected what would your preparation look like?
“After the British Elite Road champs there’s a training camp in The Netherlands for final preparation where I’d do a lot of track work.
“I rode the track a lot over the winter and am sprinting better than ever – I’d hope to ride the points and scratch.
“On the road I’d be in a supporting role for Andy Fenn and David Millar.”
What’s still ‘to do’ for you?
“I’d really like to get a medal in the British Elite Road Races champs but it’s very hard when you’re up against Sky.”
Who’s going to win the Giro?
“I haven’t watched that much with all the travelling and racing I’ve been doing but Cadel, I think.”