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."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.