March 26, 2006 (Melbourne, Australia) – As anyone who has ever watched the Tour de France knows, the Tour coverage just wouldn’t be the same without the familiar voice of Phil Liggett guiding us through the world’s biggest cycling race.
Liggett, a veteran journalist having covered at least 30 Tours (he can’t remember the exact number), was in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games commentating for host broadcaster Channel Nine. Having interviewed the ‘Voice of Cycling’ last year, I was lucky enough to get the chance to go for a short ride along St. Kilda’s beach front with Phil.
Phil, who swears a lot more in person than he does on TV, tries to ride as much as possible although with so many commitments, he only manages a few hundred kilometres a month.
“I wish I had a bit more spare time,” he said. “I’m back home (England) next week, then off to Belgium for the Tour of Flanders, then Paris-Roubaix and then before you know it, it’s July,” said Liggett.
“I organize a charity ride in August and I always end up being really unfit for it because there’s no time for riding at the Tour. It’s a ba*tard of a course too, really hilly,” he added.
The Melbourne beach front is a mecca for weekend warriors out for a spot of exercise and sometimes as much as 8,000 cyclists are cruising up and down the gently rolling road. Among them this day were the Bayside Bandidos who Phil and I met up with for a coffee. An amiable bunch, they’re an informal club of over 100 members who hijacked a traffic island in the Botanic Gardens to watch the Commonwealth Games road racing.
The club has been financially supporting the Meare’s sisters who picked up a number of medals at the Games track racing and recently organized a fundraising event where Liggett was the star guest.
After a short 55K ride, Phil had to head back for more TV-related meetings. We cruised back to the city where I bade him farewell and he signed off in typical Liggett ‘Tour’ style, “till next time, take care!”
For more information on the Bayside Bandidos visit www.baysidebandidos.com