Several years on from major generational change, Matthew Keenan, Bridie O’Donnell and Robbie McEwen are again providing the call for not just Aussie audiences – but the English language world feed of the Tour de France.
In 2017 Keenan & McEwen replaced the highly-respected commentary team of Phil Liggett, known around the world as ‘the voice of cycling’, and his long-time friend and co-commentator, Paul Sherwen. Sadly Paul Sherwen passed away in December 2018 – you can read our tribute to Paul here.
“Matthew Keenan and Robbie McEwen are at the helm of SBS’s commentary and Australian voices will call every stage from start to finish,” SBS said at the time.
Keenan & McEwen Go Global
“Three-time green jersey winner Robbie McEwen and renowned cycling commentator Matthew Keenan also take up the new role as commentators for the Tour de France’s official world feed, broadcast in over 50 territories.”
Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen continue to offer analysis and insight into stages, regions and individuals. The pair will also continue to provide Tour de France commentary for the American NBC network.
Following last year’s announcement Matt Keenan told AAP he was ‘pinching himself’.
“Phil is an iconic figure in sports broadcasting,” Keenan said. “You don’t try to replace him — you can’t.”
Over on the Bicycling Australia Facebook page many continue to have their say on the change of guard. Responses have been mixed, with many saying Liggett and Sherwen are, and will always be, the voices of the tour.
“Going to miss Phil and Paul. What they do well is capture the romance of the Tour,” wrote Ben Kingsbury.
“For me The Tour is not all about the cycling. It’s about the food and the chateaus and the landmarks and the spectacle. Matt and Robbie are excellent with dealing with the technicalities of racing but struggle with the rest. It is wonderful to watch as the cyclists pass a 16th century monastery, the camera pans back and Paul gives the perfect French pronunciation and proceeds to explain from personal experience details of what we are looking at. I understand Phil in particular is a little past it and mixes up the cyclists names, and uses his usual phrases such as “going into the red zone” but for me he will be sadly missed. The Tour won’t be the same without the duo.”
Karyn McDonald wrote “As much as I love Robbie McEwen and Matthew Keenan, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen are THE voices of Le Tour de France as they have been for many years. Won’t be quite the same without them…their dulcet tones of commentary will be sorely missed.”
Many have expressed bitter disapointed, a stream of followers clearly upset with the SBS decision.
Michael Begley: “Nooooooo!! Big mistake SBS. Phil and Paul capture the beauty of the whole tour. Not just the cycling.”
Peter Signorini: “Keenan and McEwan are competent enough, but just boring in comparison to Ligget and Sherwin.”
Shaun Walford: “Phil Liggett is the best commentator in the world for cycling, what’s the point in getting rid of him?”