‘It wasn’t a great atmosphere at the track last night,’ Scottish points race challenger Evan Oliphant explains to me. “Why not?” says I. ‘Well it was deathly quiet except for when an Aussie was riding.’ Given that the local media have been suggesting that Morris Dancing [that’s a ludicrous English folk dance in case you didn’t know] should be included in the Games in order to – ‘Give the Poms a chance!’ it’s not surprising.
Despite a disappointing bronze from Olympic kilometre champion Chris Hoy in his speciality behind home-boy Ben Kersten and England’s ever-green Jason Queally it’s been a good Games for us Scots, with another two unexpected bronzes.
Kate Cullen took a bronze in the Ladies points behind Katherine Bates and Rochelle Gilmore of Australia whilst Ross Edgar took another in the Keirin.
There’s a story behind Ross’s bronze though, Aussie Shane Kelly succeeded in getting team mate Kirsten – who finished second behind winner Ryan Bailey – declassed for riding down on him, this cost Kirsten his medal and moved Travis Smith of Canada into silver and Ross into bronze. It would be interesting to hear the Aussie adjectives that Kelly and Kirsten hurled at each other back at the village!
Hot favourite Jamie Staff of England rode a novice’s race in the semi and failed to even make the final. So, could the man from the far north of Scotland make it four bronzes? ‘I missed it by one point! I took 3 laps but missed an easy lap-gain, a group went off right after I had taken one of the laps and I didn’t get with them.
I won the first sprint, was in on the first lap gain with Sean Finning [Australia the eventual winner] and won the last lap but it wasn’t enough.’
A well-timed lead-out from team mate James McCallum saw Evan finish with 109 points, winner Finning had 137 and didn’t bother to contest the last sprint, second placed Kiwi hard-man Hayden Roulston was second on 119 and Geraint Thomas of Wales was on 110.
It’s hard to grudge Thomas his medal, just a year ago he was involved in a bad crash which necessitated his spleen being removed. It’s worth mentioning that both Finning and Roulston had two team mates each whilst Thomas and Oliphant only had one.
I asked Evan if he hadn’t had helpers track side to keep him informed, ‘Of course, but it was such an attacking, fluid race that within a lap the whole situation would change.’
Next-up for Evan is the 20 kilometre scratch on Sunday, how does he feel about the event; ‘I’m feeling good and hoping for a better result in that one.’ After the scratch Evan has a week to recover for the road race, has he seen the course?
‘Yes I’ve been round the course, it’s fast and technical, more like a criterium circuit – it should suit the track men and at 180 k it’s not a mega distance.’
We’ll be talking to Evan after the scratch race, I’ve got my saltire ready [that’s Scottish flag to you dude!]