Our next Former Winner Series Interviewee is a two times David Bell champion. Despite being 5x Scottish Road Champion, when asked for his palmares he simply answers ‘Grass Track Champion’! Yup, a big thank you to Evan Oliphant for taking time out from the Team Raleigh Training Camp in Majorca to share his experiences of winning the David Bell.
Evan, you have won the Davie Bell on two occassions. the first, in 2007, made you Scottish champion. What are your memories of the day?
I came back from racing in Belgium with DFL to ride it. From 2004 myself and Jason Macintyre had taken it year about at winning the scottish champs and he had won in 06 so it was my turn again in 07. Unfortunately Jason was not with us when the 07 champs came along and it made it even more special for me to win it that year being the Davie Bell and the Scottish champs and it brought back good memories of the times we spent racing and training together. I remember puncturing at the top of Tairlaw and having to chase back on down the slippery decent as it was a horrible cold wet day and I was pretty glad when we got to the finish there were some tough moments during it but I was delighted to win and it was also my 2nd scottish road title. I think towards the end there was only 4 of us left and 2 of them were from Velo Ecosse and since I was previously with the team myself and had lots of help from Gregor over the years I was more than happy to help them to get the other medals that day.
I did have to drive back to the top of Tairlaw though after the finish to find my wheel as neutral service had forgotten to pick it up when they changed it over. [sorry Evan!]
At the time you were riding an international programme with DFL Cycling News Litespeed – bringing a wee bit of glamour to straiton! – how did you find returning to race in Scotland?
I had returned to Scotland for a couple of races when I had no commitments with DFL and it was still always tough as its a completely different type of racing to what I was doing with DFL. The racing with DFL was much faster but you spend most of the time sitting in sheltering from the wind which means you gain lots of speed but you sometimes lose some strength, but returning to Straiton takes a different kind of power as I had to spend a lot of the time on the front and it really wears you down especially when you are not used to it but I like coming back to race in Scotland.
2007 was also an event marred by mishaps – with the lead car even going off course at one point [read the Velo Veritas Report here]. What was the feeling among the riders on the day?
I remember the race was stopped but I cant remember the feeling among the riders that day but im sure if it happened now I would be quite happy for the stop and a nice little rest. I do have some pictures somewhere standing at the side of the road when the race is stopped and I was having a chat with Gregor from Velo Ecosse about it and I have both my hands in the air not sure what I was doing maybe practicing for the finish.
But you came back again two years later and came second to teammate Ross Creber. This was just after the late move from Ploughman Craven to Endura. Can you tell us the story behind that?
I had started the ’09 season with Plowman Craven but after a couple of months they had no money left and Endura were looking to strengthen their tour series team so myself and Ross joined them for the remainder of the season. I think there was 6 or so of us in the break that day towards the end and Ben Greenwood was going very well on the climbs but I managed to get everyone to stay together and we brought him back after the last climb and then I was quite happy to help Ross or Callum win as they were both team mates of mine and as it worked out Ross was 1st and I was 2nd so was good day.
You won the Davie Bell for the second time in 2010, solo off the front. How did this win compare to the first?
I think I had more confidence going into it in 2010 and I knew my form was good and I spent most of the race off the front on my own. Its always nice to come into the finish on your own knowing the win is in the bag.
The 2010 win came just a couple weeks after the Scottish Championships, at which there seemed to be some problems with team unity… What were the feelings within the team by the time of the Davie Bell?
I think the problem was that we had lot of good guys in the team that year in Scotland and we had placed 1,2,3 and 4 at the Scottish champs and we had all wanted to win it, I know that if it had not just been us racing against each other at the end we would have ridden well together to make sure one of us had won for the team. As far as I was concerned I had no problems and I just wanted a good hard ride on the day of the race in 2010 and that’s why I went away early on my own that way there could definitely be no problems towards the end.
Due to calendar clash with the Ryedale Premier Calendar you were unable to make the 46th edition, but what did you think of the route change?
Yeh I saw the pictures on the internet and had looked at the maps online and I think including the off road sections made it a bit different and brought a new excitement to the race but no nic of balloch? Whats going on there? Glad to see its back for 2012.
You raced alongside Jason MacIntyre for several years – have you any ambitions to try and match his record equalling four victories in the Davie Bell?
I raced in the the same team as Jason for a few years and even when we were on different teams we were still close friends and raced together. I would go stay with him and his family to go training. I didnt know he had won it 4 times but I can see easily how he did as its always been a tough race to win and you have to be strong to win it and we all know he was. I would love to match his record of 4 wins if only I had tried a little harder in 09 to beat Ross I could be going for it in my next Davie Bell but that just means I will have to ride more of them now to try.
This year you have made the switch from Endura to Raleigh – how are you enjoying the new team?
Im actually on the first team camp with Raleigh while I write this and were only a couple of days in but we have a great group of guys and everyone is getting on real well together already so im really looking forward to racing for Raleigh this year and its also a big year for them being their 125thanniversary.
Having had the chance to see the proposed 2012 route, where do you think the race will be won, and who would you consider the favourites?
I have had a look at the route and I think the selections will still be made on the nic o Balloch climbs but the rough sectors could also play a vital role in forming the breakaways. Im not sure who all is riding but hopefully if I am then myself or one of my Raleigh team will be the favourites. I also think Ben Greenwood will be a hot favourite he also goes very well on the roads round there and is used to Scottish racing.
Lastly, as current Scottish Champion, are you optimistic about the future of cycle sport in the country?
Yeh I think cycling has gotten more popular over the past few years and you can see that at the races as the fields are much bigger again and there is more teams you would struggle to get an entry on the line these days. I also think once the Velodrome in Glasgow is built that will make a big difference to Scottish Cyclists I know I will be getting on it in the winter.
A big thank you to Evan! Follow his progress throughout the season at the Team Raleigh site