When Paul Sherwen unexpectedly passed away last month, it sent shockwaves down the spine of anyone who has been a fan of the Tour de France for any length of time. He and his partner Phil Liggett were the voices that made all of the action come to life.
After his professional cycling career was over, Sherwen’s voice became synonymous with the Tour de France and other major pro cycling events. He competed in the Tour seven times, a British national champion two times. For 33 years, he and Phil Liggett brought their knowledge of professional cycling into our homes. I learned more about the sport from them than anyone else.
Since I started watching the tour in 1995, it’s been Phil & Paul. For the first time in my life, it will be Phil and someone else. This week, the pro cycling calendar starts fresh with the Tour Down Under in Australia. Phil will broadcast it, along with ex-pro Robbie McEwen. Nothing is certain, but I sense that this will undoubtedly be Phil’s last year in the booth. That will ultimately compound my sadness, just as it did when Chick Hearn passed away and was no longer the LA Lakers broadcaster.
Phil broke his silence this week, writing a short piece for cycling news. Every word of what he wrote was beautiful, but this stuck with me the most.
This week, Robbie McEwen will join me, and he’s an excellent commentator who I have an awful lot of respect for. I’m worried, though, that I’ll call him Paul.