The Santos Tour Down Under will honour late broadcaster Paul Sherwen with multiple events over the coming weeks. The former professional rider and longtime cycling commentator died of heart failure on December 2 at his home in Kampala, Uganda, giving rise to an outpouring of tributes and memorials from the cycling community.
The 11-day Tour Down Under cycling festival starts January 10 with a four-day women's race and continues January 13 with the People's Choice Classic criterium and then the WorldTour-opening Tour Down Under from January 15-20. Organisers plan tributes to Sherwen at the official team presentation on January 12 and at the Legends’ Night Dinner on January 19.
"He was a true professional, brought great insight to the fans, he was generous, always had a smile on his face and put one on yours," said Hitaf Rasheed, executive director of Events South Australia. "Paul had a deep passion and care for the work he did and the people he worked with and for, including the riders and fans.
"There is a place in our hearts which will now be empty as we look back and think of all the wonderful moments we have shared with Paul. Phil and Paul, Liggett and Sherwen, they carry so much of our story which is why a series of tributes have been planned for January," Rasheed said.
Sherwen and commentary partner Phil Ligget first covered the Australian race in 2000. Ligget, who will return to the race this year absent his longtime friend and broadcasting sidekick, said Sherwen would be humbled by the outpouring of support from around the world, including being remembered fondly at the Tour Down Under.
"It has been truly unbelievable. I knew he was universally loved, but this has been extraordinary," Ligget said. "I know he will be looking down on us with that trademark smile, wondering just what all the fuss is about, wearing his RM Williams boots that he was so fond of.
"Rather than commenting on the breakaway or asking the probing questions, Paul will be the subject matter in 2019 at the Santos Tour Down Under with tributes at the Team Presentation and Legends’ Night Dinner events, so we can all remember the man behind the mic," Ligget said.
"Paul will be remembered fondly by the cycling community, and we know our hearts will be filled with sadness and memories, each of them unique and personal, as that was just the kind of guy he was, always having a moment to stop and chat about the most interesting of topics, not just cycling.
"It will be my honour to pay tribute to Paul at the Legends’ Night Dinner," Ligget said.