Following the Bestmed Phil Liggett Tribute Tour in December, two of South Africa’s premier road cycling stage races will be honouring the legendary British cycling commentator by naming their winners’ trophies after him.
ASG Events announced that next month’s Bestmed Tour of Good Hope in the Cape Winelands and September’s Bestmed Jock Tour in Mpumalanga will pay homage to the Voice of Cycling – as he is known worldwide – in this unique way.
Following a conversation last year between ASG chief executive Wynand de Villiers and Bestmed marketing and sales chief Chris Luyt, the inaugural tribute ride was initiated and took place from Pretoria to Hoedspruit.
“Chris is a big fan of Phil and he was keen to do something to acknowledge him, so this ride was put together,” said De Villiers.
Now, said De Villiers, they had decided to take it a step further by honouring Liggett at two of South Africa’s top races.
“This development has received the endorsement of Phil,” he said.
De Villiers said the elite men’s and women’s trophies at both events would be inducted this year as the Phil Liggett Tribute trophies.
A former amateur cyclist, Liggett, now 73, was offered a contract to turn professional in 1967. Instead, he turned to journalism, launching a career which has seen him become the world’s premier cycling commentator.
Honoured in 2005 as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to the sport, De Villiers said Liggett had long been a staunch supporter of South African cycling.
“During the tribute ride in December, we discussed with him at length the futures of the two events and agreed to work on putting measures in place over the next two years to evolve the events into fully fledged international tours.
“It’s an honour for the two events to be associated with Phil. He is world cycling’s most recognisable figure and it’s going to do wonders for the events to have him spread their message across the globe.”
Luyt said he felt the move would add much value to the tours.
“We feel the Tour of Good Hope and the Jock Tour have the potential to attract international calibre cyclists and I’m sure, in years to come, these could become highly coveted trophies.”
He added that Liggett graciously accepted the tribute in typical understated fashion.
“He is a wonderful guy and very humble. He joked in his distinctive English manner that he thought it was not good to ‘honour a guy before he’s dead’.”
What’s more, according to Luyt, Liggett said he hadn’t even retired yet.
“But he has been a great ambassador for the sport and relates strongly with Bestmed’s objectives in pursuing wellness.
“For us it’s a dual purpose because we want to promote the potential of our brand, while having it linked to the renowned Voice of Cycling.”