Cape Town - Phil Liggett’s voice won’t grace South African television during the broadcast of this year’s Tour de France for the first time in almost 30 years.
Instead, according to the inthebunch website, the "Voice of Cycling" will commentate solely for NBC TV in
the United States when the three-week race starts in Düsseldorf in
Germany on July 1.
“In the past I have been heard on all of the English-speaking
channels around the world, but this year it will be just for NBC,” said
Liggett explained that the organisers of the Tour - the Amaury Sport
Organisation - would send a different signal, known as the World Feed,
to networks that did not have a big presence on the race.
In the past, NBC’s crew of 85 people have covered the event and it
was this coverage that the organisers made available worldwide,
including South Africa.
They however made the decision to send out a different signal for the 2017 race, one not seen by the NBC team, said Liggett.
“We can’t add our voice to this signal and this means SuperSport will not be able to get my commentary this time.”
South Africans will instead hear the voices of Australians Matt
Keenan and Robbie McEwan describing the action.
Liggett, 73, has worked on the Tour de France every year since 1978.
“I am very sorry not to be talking to my South African fans this
year,” he said. “After a long association with them and Australia in
particular, these two countries are very close to me.
Liggett is a known fan and supporter of South Africa and spends a great deal of his leisure time in the country.
Liggett owns a house in the Western Cape and a game farm near the Kruger Park.
In 2005, Liggett was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to cycling.
The 2017 Tour de France starts on Saturday, July 1 in Düsseldorf with a 14km individual time trial and finished 3 540km later on Sunday, July 23 in Paris.