‘It’s going to be very difficult ‘: Phil Liggett re-starts without friend Paul Sherwen at Tour Down Under

The veteran commentator is preparing to begin the new racing season after the death of his friend and co-commentator Paul Sherwen

Phil Liggett will have a “very difficult” time commentating for the first time in Australia’s Tour Down Under since the death of his friend and co-commentator Paul Sherwen.

Their long-time Tour de France and race partnership ended when the 62-year-old Englishman died in his sleep of heart failure in December.

>>> Tributes from Phil Liggett, David Millar and more as cycling broadcaster Paul Sherwen dies at 62

“I’ve evaluated every day in my life since,” Liggett told the Australian Associated Press.

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

The duo called the Tour de France for 33 years together. After Sherwen’s death, 75-year-old Liggett doubted whether he would continue the work.

“Because I spoke about it almost non-stop from the moment I was told, the grief flew over my head,” Liggett said. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet.”

For the WorldTour stage race in Adelaide, Australia, Liggett will commentate with former Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen.

“Robbie is a natural on television, a total natural,” he continued. “He’s a friend. I’m not at all worried about working with Robbie.”

Liggett used to grab Sherwen’s knee to signal he would start commentating. With McEwen, the tradition will likely continue.

“I’m just a little bit afraid I might grab his knee. I will let you know [the reaction], I hope Robbie understands.

“It’s no good, it will slip,” Liggett added when asked if he thinks he might accidentally refer to McEwen as Sherwen and say “Paul”.

“I think that’s a sign of friendship.”

The men’s Tour Down Under starts with a criterium on January 13. The stage race begins two days later.

Liggett explained that no decision has been made on who will work beside him at the 2019 Tour de France.