Phil Liggett has arguably introduced more people to professional cycling than anyone else, certainly in the English-speaking world. He returned to Australia in 2023 after an absence of a couple of years, so we caught up with the ‘Voice Of Cycling’ for a chat after stage four of the TDU.


 – A video interview by Rob Arnold



“It’s good to be back,” says Phil Liggett about his return to Australia for the first time since 2020. It’s early in what is a rather personal interview with one of cycling’s most recognisable faces – and certainly the sport’s most recognisable voice.

We have known each other a long time but this is only the second time I’ve done an interview with Phil. He is always charming and rarely reserved, but after stage four of his first bike race of 2023, he was curiously subdued when we spoke at the Adelaide Hilton.

It was the final Saturday of #TDU2023. Fifteen days earlier, while on a speed boat on a river near Mitchelton Winery the motor hit a hidden log. The sudden halt threw Liggett backwards and the resultant impact fractured four of his ribs.

At 79, he’s still as spritely as ever, particularly when he’s calling cycling on the TV. He finds his energy, ignores the pain of the fractures, and speaks in the tone we’ve all become familiar with.

It’s obvious that he still loves watching a bike race and explaining the images to audiences all over the world. Liggett is the master of this trade and although there are many other cycling commentators than there were when he started doing this work, he continues to hold a unique appeal.


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It’s a pleasure to hear Phil Liggett speak. And although many of the topics raised in this interview are familiar to most who follow RIDE Media, it is great to listen to his stories again.

Early in our exchange we talk about Paul Sherwen and the huge void that now exists in his world. But he manages to get to the end of the telling without shedding a tear.

“I lost my shadow,” he concludes about Paul, who died of a heart attack on 2 December 2018, “and a great confidante.”

As he speaks, the memory of his departed mate prompts a smile, and we continue our discussion by considering the repetitive nature of his long career.

From one bike race to another, year-on-year for over 55 years, Liggett has described bike racing to audiences large and small.

He used to write a column after races in which he competed. But his commentary of cycling quickly developed at the end of the 1960s. Before long Liggett’s voice would become synonymous with the sport he loves.

Still, he says, it is possible for a bike race to be boring. And if that happens, the commentator faces a challenge to try and retain the interest of the audience… and Liggett does this with relative ease, and with the dulcet tone that is equal parts comforting and informative.

My hope for the interview was to follow Phil’s lead on what he wanted to talk about. Inevitably the focus turns to bike racing, but also Africa, animals and, of course, his wife of 52 years, ‘Pat’ – as I’ve always known her (or ‘Trish’ as Phil calls her).

When I asked what it is that excites him when he’s about to go to a bike race, I state the obvious: if you do something over and over again for long enough, even something as exciting as cycling risks – dare I say it – being ‘boring’.

“I have to say that occasionally I am bored by the racing,” he replies. “You know, it can be very boring especially now we give television coverage from start to finish. That is, for my own mind, not the way to sell the sport because the tactics – and the way they race them – for the non-cycling viewer, it is boring until we get to the point when the race is decided.

“But,” he continues, “why do I go every day? Because I love meeting the people. And by ‘the people’ it’s the entourage, not just the bike riders.”

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Cycling isn’t boring. And Phil Liggett could make a snail race seem exciting. After all these years, he has coined many a phrase and explained complicated – sometimes boring – scenarios in a way that makes it fun, thrilling even.

He loves cycling, his work, Africa, animals and Pat / Trish. He is interesting even when he’s tired. He’s engaging even when he’d like to switch off. He is friendly and considered and passionate and empathetic. He is a unique individual and it is a pleasure to have known him as long as I have.

I hope you enjoy watching this interview and that you too get something out of a chat between friends. There might be familiar themes and maybe even stories you’ve heard before but Phil Liggett has a knack of making a conversation seem bigger that just an exchange of words and ideas.

For me, a highlight of this interview is his smile at the end. It is a sign of a contented man, and it fills me with inspiration for how to live a good life.


– Rob


For more from the TDU of 2023, visit RIDE Media’s YouTube channel – interviews, pro bikes, etc…