Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski spoke to one of the world's most popular cycling commentators, Phil Liggett, before the start of stage 1 of the Tour de Georgia to ask his opinions of the race and Lance Armstrong's impending retirement.
CN: What are your thoughts on the Tour de Georgia?
Phil Liggett: I'm always impressed with the organization of any of the races in the States. But this is taking the old organization from the old Tour DuPont, which was a tremendous success and is sadly missed, and this has without a doubt replaced it.
This is a fantastic event - the organization is superb, the police control has no rivals anywhere in the world and the riders have responded. I was surprised to see five Pro Tour teams here, but as far as I am concerned, the Pro Tour is virtually nonexistent right now and I can see why they would want to race here.
CN: What does it say to have four Pro Tour teams led by Americans?
Phil Liggett: It's a sign of the times you know. America has got some good bike riders. I think the general [audience] is going to miss Lance Armstrong because he was an icon they could attach to the particular sport, and they might step away from the sport for a while. But there are plenty of guys to hang on in there. They realize the sport is bigger than Lance, so it will continue.
CN: How much do you think American cycling will be hurt by not having Lance racing?
Phil Liggett: Even in the days of the Tour DuPont, when there was no Lance Armstrong, they got as many people to come out and watch every day. So there will always be encouragement on the ground for racing.