The name Phil Liggett is one of the best recognized in all of professional cycling. First introduced to American audiences in the 1980s through CBS’s Emmy Award-winning Tour de France coverage, Liggett is the person responsible for first introducing many of us to pro cycling. From the first wave of coverage, with Greg LeMond’s three wins, and on to the domestic popularity of top American races like the Tour DuPont, Amgen Tour of California, and the USA Pro Challenge in the 1990s and 2000s, Liggett has left an indelible mark on America. He is on the same pantheon as LeMond and Lance Armstrong when it comes to celebrity. His animated commentating style and Liverpudlian accent coupled with his unique fan accessibility over the decades has endeared him to all generations.
In this two-part episode of The Outer Line’s “Retrospective” podcast, Phil sits down from lockdown in London and talks at length with our Steve Brunner – not just about pro cycling but about his personal background, how he came to cycling, his own racing career and his mentors and colleagues over the years, while providing perspectives on various Tour de France stars and characters over the 48 years he’s covered cycling’s pinnacle event.
The Apple podcast is available for direct download from The Outer Line podcast channel.
In Episode 4 of the Retrospectives podcast, a two-part episode, Phil talks about how he got his start when he was hired to be the driver for British announcer David Saunders. He reminds us of his “other” career announcing the Winter Olympics for NBC – particularly ski jumping – and he reminisces about the long relationship with his primary commentating sidekick, Paul Sherwen. Listen in as Phil gives us his intimate reflections on the past 30 years of essentially being the unique voice of cycling in the United States.
The audio track only for the above video is available directly from The Outer Line.
In Part 2 of our interview, Phil will talk more about the current state of pro cycling today, who his favorite riders are today, and where he sees the sport headed over the longer term.