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For Liggett, the cycling show must go on

Phil Liggett, the man known as the Voice of Cycling, is overwhelmed by the public reaction to the death of his friend and colleague Paul Sherwen.

For Liggett, the cycling show must go on

Phil Liggett, the man known as the Voice of Cycling, is overwhelmed by the public reaction to the death of his friend and colleague Paul Sherwen.

Phil Liggett doubts the grief has truly hit him yet as he deals with the shock death of his cycling commentary sidekick Paul Sherwen.

Liggett is having his annual trip to Adelaide to call the Tour Down Under for TV and now his co-commentator will be Australian cycling great Robbie McEwen.


Adelaide is Liggett's first public appearance since Sherwen died early last month at his Uganda home, aged 62.

The duo known in cycling simply as "Phil and Paul" had called the Tour de France for 33 years, which Liggett notes is a record in TV sports commentary.

Liggett said the public reaction to Sherwen's death has been overwhelming - he received 30,000 tweets in the following three days.

"Because I spoke about it almost non-stop from the moment I was told, the grief flew over my head.

"I don't think it's hit me yet.

"My reception here has been extraordinary, but the outpouring of love ... has been incredible and it's probably gotten me through one of the worst times of my life."

The Tour Down Under will have several tributes to Sherwen, where he and Liggett worked annually.

"I've evaluated every day in my life since," Liggett, nicknamed the Voice Of Cycling, said of Sherwen's death.

"The last thing I want to do is crack up. It's going to be very difficult at the Tour Down Under.

But he is rapt to be working with McEwen, who has impressed over the last few years in commentary, noting he and Sherwen called the sprint ace's Tour de France career.

Still, Liggett is wondering how McEwen will react when the veteran caller uses the signal he perfected with Sherwen so they would not talk over the top of each other.

"Robbie is a natural on television - a total natural," Liggett said.

."He's a friend. I'm not at all worried about working with Robbie.

"I'm just a little bit afraid I might grab his knee ... I will let you know (the reaction), I hope Robbie understands."

More seriously, Liggett said it is "only matter of time" before he calls his co-commentator Paul.

"It's no good, it will slip," Liggett said.

"I think that's a sign of friendship."

Liggett said it was pointless trying to replace Sherwen and again, reflecting the humour that permeated their friendship, noted that McEwen "knows nothing about birds".

Liggett and Sherwen shared a strong interest in wildlife.

It remains unclear who will commentate alongside Liggett at the Tour de France for American TV.

"We were great friends ... whatever company we sat in, we made them laugh," Liggett said.

"People were always amazed that we were these normal, down-to-earth blokes and not a couple of these hyped-up 'talents' who refused to sit at the same table."

AAP


AAP




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