Jeremy Hunt, from Team Sky rider to Synergy Baku sports director

Former British pro rider Jeremy Hunt is helping the Azerbaijan team at the Tour de Langkawi

Jeremy Hunt did not want to retire from team Sky and become a sports director but he could not resist. He signed on to direct the Synergy Baku team only a few months after retiring, in January 2013.

“I didn’t want to be a DS, I didn’t want to sit in the car for five hours a day for 30 days straight. And maybe I’ll have to do that one day! I was out of the game for three or four months, though, and drawn back in,” ‘Jez’ Hunt told Cycling Weekly at the Tour de Langkawi this weekend.

“David McQuaid called me, offering me a role to help make a country, Azerbaijan better. That’s what interested me. It wasn’t a DS role, I’m more of a mentor or trainer.”

The humidity rose in Malaysia. He began his job here at the Tour last year. With sweat on his face, he helped his team prepare for the start of stage four to Genting Highlands. The star, number 151 Elchin Asadov stood closely.

“I remember Jeremy Hunt in Paris-Roubaix, in the Tour de France. Jez is experienced. He looks over us,” Asadov said.

“He explains his training methods, works with us, works on our position – changes this or changes that – every time looking and working. He’s always looking and talking.”

David McQuaid, son of former UCI President Pat McQuaid, helped start the Synergy Baku team for the Azerbaijan Cycling Federation. The federation aims to put its cyclists in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“When I went there in December one year ago, it was the way I expected it to be, but when they come to races with us, it’s a pro team and we make it as pro as possible,” added Hunt.

“I’d never seen [a national system] like that before because I’m from the UK. British cycling 20 years ago was Doug Dailey in his cottage and on the phone. He’d go to the world championships and organise all the flights. What I saw in Azerbaijan was better than that.”

“One year on they are winning bike races. They got a lot better. That’s what I want to see.”