Phil Liggett's 40 years at the Tour de France
In an extended interview exclusive to ITV.com, Matt Rendell sits down with commentator Phil Liggett to talk over his 40 years calling the action at the Tour de France.
Phil explains how his love of fishing as a young man was the catalyst for a career in cycling.
He tells Matt how he got his break as a cycling commentator. In the 1980s when Robert Millar won the King of the Mountains jersey in 1984 it was 'the first time I've called a British success on the Tour,' says Phil.
Phil remembers Chris Boardman's pro cycling days, calling him 'a very meticulous and intelligent man'.
Mark Cavendish, says Phil, is 'special' and he insists he's the fastest sprinter he's ever seen, while he thanks Bradley Wiggins for making his 40th Tour de France the first time a Briton is favourite to win.
"The Tour de France is never short of scandal and stories," adds Phil. "I never get tired of the stories."
"The silence of the press room now ... in my day you couldn't think because of all the clank of all the typewriters. But it's part of the ambience of the Tour de France.
"I'm totally against race radios - always have been. They security aspect is a blind by the directors, they want to tell the riders what to do and how to win the Tour. It makes it all a bit too automatic, all a bit too repetitive.
"I get all these wonderful emails from people saying: 'Don't ever retire.' ... The passion is unbelievable ... I feel pressure not to retire, but then I get pressure to want to do things for myself, because when you get old you realise life is running out.
"The freedom of the bike is the secret to success, that's why I love cycling. You're totally free."
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