Since the start of the New Year, Jeremy Hunt (Sky) has been based in Spain, training for the spring, and the oncoming Classics season. He’ll start racing in Qatar and Oman, then ride Kuurne-Bruxelles–Kuurne, and Paris-Nice, before his main goal of the spring – the Classics. He’s due to start in the team for all the Classics that Sky races, except Milan-San Remo, and he’s confident that the team will be successful.
“With Edvald [Boasson Hagen] and Flecha, if Edvald’s back to what he can be, you’ll have two of the strongest riders - with those two you can win a big one, especially with enough help”, Hunt told Cyclingnews.
“Every guy in this Classics squad, you know that if they’re given a chance, they’ve got a good chance of winning. Hayman, he’s good, Sutton too - they all can sprint, which is what makes a difference.”
As for his own role, Hunt is happy to ride according to the team’s tactics, supporting other riders, or taking opportunities. Although the end of Cervélo was hard for Hunt, it has given him the chance to ride with Sky, and the English rider is happy to be riding for the British team.
“It’s what I wanted when I was a kid, looking at 7-Eleven, and teams like that. Cycling has changed a lot but it’s good to be a British rider in a British team”
It’s a big change from when Hunt turned pro with Banesto, back in 1996, with only a handful of British riders in the peloton. When he started, Chris Boardman, Malcolm Elliott and Sean Yates were the only British professional cyclists, and it was hard to be British and find a pro team – very different from 2011, where there are structures and teams to support young riders.
“Any guy who turned pro then, he went to France, and did the hard yards. It was hard to turn pro as they’d rather have a Frenchman than a British man – it’s been like that all the way until the last five years.”
“You start talking about the old days and there was no Skype, no dvds, no mobile phones, no nothing! All these things that make life on the road what it is in Europe! You don’t even have to live in Europe any more, do you – that’s the thing, you can live in England – but back then if you wanted to turn Pro you had to go to France and live there for a year.”
“It would be a lot different to come through now . I can’t say if it would have been better or worse. You don’t envy the guys who’ve got it all now, you’re happy for them. It’s something that I wish I had and it wasn’t there when I was young, and that’s the way it is.”
“It was hard, and the cycling’s still hard now, it’s just hard in different days. Back in our days it was a lot to do with being fast and you were either good or you weren’t. These days there’s no just going out and taking it easy now everybody knows how to train, if the young guys don’t go out and train properly, they don’t turn pro.”
Although he’s in his sixteenth professional season, he still loves to race and his time at Cervélo has given him new motivation, that’s just increasing with the move to Sky.
“I reckon I’ve improved in the last two years. [Cervélo] rejuvenated me because we raced as a team, you were there with some of the best riders in the world, and we raced well together.”
“When I joined Crédit Agricole, I was enjoying it, but it wasn’t like being in Cervélo, or Sky, where everyone’s having a laugh, and you go for a ride and stop at a coffee shop and the banter goes on. All that stuff makes cycling easy.”
And although it may have been tempting to consider retiring when Cervélo finished, Hunt’s not ready to stop just yet.
“I definitely want to carry on, I don’t want to stop when I still want to ride my bike because I enjoy it. I guess you stop enjoying it when you’re not good any more, when you can’t race at the highest level but at the moment I enjoy it too much.”