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Hedge-blog: Vuelta - will we miss Phil and Paul

23rd August 2014

Those of us who don't have Eurosport have got used to listening to cycling commentary by Phil and Paul on ITV4.

They may not be the best commentators ever - in fact, they're definitely not. They're made to look worse because of the excellence of Gary Imlach, Chris Boardman, and Ned Boulting, in the studio. When Gary says, 'Let's hand over to race commentary', it can seem like time-travelling from the Enlightenment to the Middle Ages. 

However, they do have some advantages. Their voices are familiar. And they can be funny.

However, from ITV's press release, it seems that it's all change in the commentary box for the 2014 Vuelta. Phil Liggett will still be present, but he is sharing duties with Anthony McCrossan and Graham Jones. The Phil and Paul double-act is being split up. The Laurel and Hardy of cycling are no more. Bike racing's Morecombe and Wise are finished. You get the idea.

So in case you're going to miss Phil and Paul, here are some fond memories of their contributions to the 2014 Tour de France.

As the race went past the London Olympic stadium.

Phil or Paul: 'This is where, in 2012, the Olympic flame was flying.'

Paul or Phil: 'I've met a couple of people who've had the chance of swimming in the Olympic stadium.'

The day the Tour went over cobbles in northern France, in the rain.

Phil or Paul explaining what it was like to ride the cobbles: 'Try taking your bike to an ice rink in, er, one of the stadiums and see if you can, er, ride it....that's roughly what it's like.'

Going past a church.

Paul or Phil: 'That church was originally founded in 620AD, although it's been ravaged many times, including by the Huns.'

Phil or Paul relating the legend of the Planche des Belles Filles at some length. The story involves a girl who falls in love with a soldier, and who is subsequently chased by a third party, and jumps into a lake to commit suicide.

Paul or Phil: 'Back with the race.'

In the Alps, chamois ascend a slope near the Col du Lautaret. 

Phil or Paul refers to the chamois as 'wildlife'.

Paul or Phil: 'It's amazing how high those, er, animals can climb.'

[There are times when it might be better to fess up than cover up].

Images of a glacier on the Massif des Ecrins.

Phil or Paul: 'They are glaciers, so they virtually stay there all year round.'

When you have to talk for hours at a stretch, some of what you say is bound to be gibberish. It could be worse. Danny Mills, on 5Live during Germany's 7-1 win over Brazil, said out loud: 'We are literally speechless.' And at the World Cup final, Alan Shearer's insight was, 'It doesn't get any bigger than this.' At least Phil and Paul didn't say either of those things.

Vuelta coverage starts on ITV4 at 10pm today, with highlights of the team time trial.

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