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Veteran commentary, Phil Liggett shares another memorable moment from a lifetime commentating on the Tour de France.  This is time he recalls with fondness the moment Australian superstar Cadel Evan became the first Australian to win the Tour de France in 2011.

2011 – Cadel Evans

Phil recalls “He won it so well. And now back in 1998, that’s 13 years earlier, I’d seen Cadel when he was a kid. And I saw him scalp these top professionals from Spain and everywhere else, in the Tour of Tasmania on the mountain, Mount Wellington, in Hobart.

And I said to my co-commentator at the time, the recently retired Phil Anderson, who without doubt was the most outstanding Aussie cyclist of his day. And I said, “Phil, why is this kid messing about with mountain bikes? He could win the Tour de France!” We told him to pack in his cycling on a mountain bike and get out on the road.

He wanted to do the 2000 Olympics for his sponsors, Volvo, on the mountain bike.  He broke his collarbone before the Olympics. He did ride, but he finished, I think it was seventh on the day, because his collarbone wasn’t quite ready for that, or his fitness certainly wasn’t. And then he did turn pro.

So, in the first year, he won some big races. Then he had a love affair with the Tour after that, narrow misses, and almost making it. And that was a real challenge.

Then we came to the 2011 Tour and he won it!  I think everybody in Australia was watching the television. They’d never had viewing figures like it, because they were all glued to the television to watch what they hoped would be a fairytale ending, and it was.

And then I was working for all of the television networks around the world, primarily for America and Great Britain, ITV. But the producer from the Australian network shouts at me from Australia because he’d won.  I’d finished, I’d signed off with a “Goodbye” when the riders had crossed the line for everybody else. He just said, please, “Phil, get in there somehow, get an interview for us, and we’ll stay live.”

So, I crashed over the barriers, and there were thousands of people packing the Champs-Élysées, now mostly officials, and I was trying to crash through. And I managed to grab hold of Cadel Evans by his left shoulder and whirl him round. I said, “Cadel, Cadel, it’s Phil, it’s Phil.  I need a live interview with you now for SBS.” And he turned round and he said, “You, you,” he said, “You told me I could win the Tour de France.” I said, “Yes, I did, but I didn’t expect to wait 13 years for you to do it!”

And then we started crying and getting such an emotional occasion. And since then, Cadel and I have stayed pretty good friends.”

Total talent

Cadel Evans was a excellent cyclist winning two Mountain Bike Cross Country World Cupa in 1998 and 1999 before switch to Road cycling where he won the World Road Race Championship in 2009 and the Tour de France in 2011.

As Phil Liggett stated “He had total talent.”

Phil went on to  say  that Cadel “Came from the Northern Territory. Most people think he came from Victoria, the state of Victoria. But in his early days, he was brought up in the Northern Territory, which is like a desert, but with a few outlets for homes.

And so, I remember when he won, they remembered he came from the Northern Territory.  I’m not too accurate on the name of the newspaper, but I think it’s the Northern Territory Times or something like that. They did exactly what the Tour de France did in its formation for the yellow jersey. They printed their next edition on yellow pages, all in honour of Cadel becoming the first Australian to win the final yellow jersey.

And that was amazing. And somebody sent it to me, the paper in England, and Cadel had never seen it. So, I took the paper with me to Australia the next year.

And I said, “You might like to keep this as a souvenir.” Cadel said, “I’ve never seen it.” And so, he was quite impressed.  So, he kept it.”