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"I don't think it's hit me yet" - Phil Liggett, back on the mic at the Tour Down Under, opens up about Paul Sherwen's death

Veteran commentator will be joined at Australian race by Robbie McEwen - but warns that he is bound to call him "Paul"...

Phil Liggett says that the grief following the death of Paul Sherwen, his co-commentator for more than three decades, is yet to hit him as he prepares to pick up the microphone once again for the Tour Down Under.

Former Tour de France cyclist turned TV pundit Sherwen died last month at his home in Uganda at the age off 62, with the news prompting tributes from cycling fans all round the world, many of whom got their introduction to watching the sport on TV courtesy of “Phil and Paul.”

The pair would head to Adelaide each January to commentate on the Tour Down Under, but this year it will be Australian former sprinter Robbie McEwen who sits alongside him, reports the Australian Associated Press.

Speaking about Sherwen’s death, Liggett said: "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."

"I've evaluated every day in my life since. The last thing I want to do is crack up. It's going to be very difficult at the Tour Down Under.”

Liggett said that he is looking forward to working with McEwen, a three-time winner of the points classification at the Tour de France.

He said: "Robbie is a natural on television - a total natural. 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."

After 33 years commentating alongside Sherwen, Liggett acknowledged that it was "only matter of time" before he called McEwen “Paul, adding, "It's no good, it will slip. I think that's a sign of friendship."

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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