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Kings of commentary


Most know by now that I am a massive fan of the Tour de France. My wife, The Perfumed Steamroller, introduced me to the event about 10 years ago following her dalliance with local cycling in South Africa back in The Rapport Tour days.

I find the event fascinating and a magnificent example of how superbly strategised teamwork galvanises a collective effort to propel the team’s principal rider to triumph over an extraordinary duration. The success rate of a team over three weeks is directly proportional to the effect external influences have on progress, and it seems no potential pitfall can be ignored.

One of the reasons I enjoy the #TDF so much is the commentary. I think the paring of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen is outstanding. They are informative, excitable and passionate about their sport. It does help that they have been doing this gig for over 20 years now, but it truly is a delight to listen to them add to the magnificent backdrop of the event.

I believe the secret to their success is their discipline. They know exactly what their individual role is. Phil sets it all up and due to his experience, adds content and insight as Paul completes the picture perfectly with anecdotes and intricate knowledge he gleaned during his seven #TDF rides. Together they cover all bases and while they are the first to admit they are not perfect, as an entertainment pairing in my book they come damn close.

Importantly with Phil and Paul there is no sense of any ego trying to outdo the other. They effortlessly co-exist alongside each other in a cubicle of cheeriness as they communicate the often unexpected events to millions who are engrossed. When Phil stops talking, Paul commences and shrewdly joins the dots. Each is gladly presented with their own airtime opportunity and they dovetail perfectly. The viewer is updated, educated and engaged. They clearly delight in broadcasting.

Phil and Paul are unbiased in their calling of the race yet at times are critical of races, cyclists and the organisers. However, they also don't hide their fondness for cycling and their favourite competitors, thereby drawing the viewer into their world. When needed, they cover for each other and constantly feed off each other, epitomising teamwork.

Sports commentary is so subjective and it always elicits emotive views and rarely is anybody universally accepted. In my view these two gentlemen of Le Tour tick many of the necessary boxes.

I wonder…will we feel the same satisfaction come Thursday when watching the upcoming test series from England?


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