Jeremy Hunt Tour of Langkawi 2008

Jeremy Hunt wowed the crowd at the start of Het Volk with a quick verse of Baa Baa Black Sheep - putting his team-mate Thor Hushovd's follow-up attempt to shame.

The Credit Agricole rider was introduced to the big crowd in Ghent this morning and said he was feeling in a good mood.

Asked by the interviewer to prove it by singing a song, Hunt cleared his throat and sang the opening verse of the popular nursery rhyme.

It could have an early audition for the TV talent programme X Factor, although you wouldn't fancy Hunt's chances of getting the approval of Simon Cowell or Sharon Osbourne. If truth be told, he was a little flat.

The crowd, though, loved it, giving him a big cheer.

Next up was Hushovd and he was asked to top Hunt's effort with a little something in Norwegian. He managed the opening line of something that didn't quite have the catchy melody of Baa Baa Black Sheep. It was no match for Hunt.

Back at the Credit Agricole bus, Hunt was indeed in good form.

"He asked me to sing a song," he explained. "I'd said I was feeling good, so he wanted me to prove it. Baa Baa Black Sheep was the only thing I knew the words to."

Hunt is settling in well at Credit Agricole and it hasn't escaped his attention that he's been singled out to fill the Julian Dean-shaped whole left in the squad's roster. The New Zealander was Hushovd's main lead-out man but opted to join Slipstream in the winter.

Has Hunt been primed to be Hushovd's number one lead-out man. "That's the plan. Well, that's their [the team's] plan anyway, we'll have to see how it goes. I hope I can be some use."

As for today's Het Volk, Hunt was upbeat. "It's very windy but the weather could have been a lot worse. It's been a lot worse at this race.

"This race is always about positioning but today it's even more important because of the wind. If you're in the wrong place when the winds coming from the wrong direction it could be game over.

"I'm feeling good. Getting used to the weather after being in Australia and Malaysia [where he won a stage of the Tour of Langkawi.

"The run-in is different. It makes it a totally different race, but it's still a long way from the last climb [the Molenberg] to the finish. A lot has been said about the cobbles near the finish. Paddestraat is hard but the last three aren't really that bad."

Paddestraat is the fourth from last section, measuring 2,300 metres, and it comes 34 kilometres from the finish.

"The thing is, it's a hard race no matter what they do. And no one wants to race full on for all 200 kilometres," he added.


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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.