If I had a TV, this is one sporting event I’d watch. I love British commentator Phil Liggett’s clipped, velvet voice. Phil Liggett is the Vin Scully of professional cycling. Known for his vivid language as well as his encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport, Phil has been covering the Tour since 1973. Liggett’s sidekick at the finish line is Paul Sherwen, a former professional cyclist who raced in the Tour de France seven times.
Paul and Phil
What sets Phil aside from the rest is his poetic language and often subtle allusions. While American sports fans have happily endured the monotonous play-by-play that accompanies baseball and the lame, grammatically challenged clash-of-titans imagery that NFL commentators unleash upon viewers, a small but fervent cult has quietly formed among cycling freaks the world over. The fuel that drives their mania is called the Liggettism:
- “The riders are starting to get a bit twitchy now!”
- “He’s stamping on those pedals!”
- “Now (insert rider’s name) is going to have a go at it!”
- “Armstrong has let them all have their chances and now he is reeling them
in like some great fisherman.”
- “He’s suffering like he’s never suffered before…..”
- “…and now these surgeons of cycling are navigating this rugged French countryside over roads made for animals…”
- “Now the boys are enjoying a nice slice of tailwind”
- “He is really plowing a wide furrow through the field today”
- “The peloton is passing a field of white cows. This region of France is known for its bovine….(goes off on tangent)….Of course, none of that matters to any of the riders, except that they might like a nice steak at the end of day.”
Here are Phil and Paul doing their thing in 2007, Stage 5:
In 2000, John and I saw a stage in Lausanne, Switzerland during the Reign of Lance Armstrong, his second of seven consecutive wins. We had our bicycles and snuck onto and rode part of the course until we got chased off by an official.
Spaniard Carlos Sastre is the champion of le Tour de France 2008.
Kraftwerk – Tour de France