Ned Boulting is an integral figure in ITV’s annual coverage of the Tour de France, writes JOSEPH THEOBALD.

My expectations from the show were for some interesting behind the scenes anecdotes and gossip on the tour from his 15 years covering it, which we got, plus a fair bit more.

The show opened with a Train Spotting-inspired video of Ned cycling through city streets to Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life, then wheeling in to the Wyvern, appearing on stage to applause.

We were then treated to a bit of local content, including a mention of my very own club, the Swindon Wheelers, and the compulsory Magic Roundabout gag.

The packed house and was soon invited to its feet to recite the cycling oath, in a Texan Lance Armstrong accent (the recipient of a few bitter digs throughout the course of the evening), and then the self-deprecating anecdotes ensued.

Ned only got in to cycling in 2003 after covering his first Tour when he was deployed as ITV’s resident idiot, asking stupid questions and referring to the yellow jersey as the yellow jumper.

It all felt very Dave Gorman-esque, with lots of slides and irreverent digs at some of the sacred cows of cycling culture.

The opening stage was rounded out with an audience member, Chris Chambers from Abingdon, taking to the Cycling Mastermind chair and smashing the standing record with 26 correct answers in two minutes, putting himself firmly in the lead for an all expenses trip to Mont Ventoux.

The second half was a lot more Tour orientated, including a re-enactment of stage 21 through the audience, a funny story about Robbie McEwan, Bernard Hinault and a bull, and some particularly bad Boulting gaffes from over the years such as describing a rider as “looking invisible” and another as being “a square hole in a round peg”.

The evening was rounded off with bizarre skit entitled ‘Wiggo the Musical’, an odd dress-up routine in homage to the first British tour winner.