Longtime Cycling Commentator and former competitor Paul Sherwen has died unexpectedly in Uganda where he lived and worked
Part of a great commentary duo alongside Phil Ligget. For me they were the sound of Le Tour for over 20 years.
Were Phil and Paul effectively the world feed as they also covered it for SBS and NBC over the years, although a couple of years ago SBS dropped them but they continued on NBC. I don't follow it to closely in the UK so no idea if they continued for ITV.
I think Phil and Paul were contracted to NBC (and it’s previous incarnations as OLN and Verses) since the US began daily live coverage when Lance Armstrong came to prominence in the late 90s / early 2000s. The issues with taking a clean US commentary increased over time.
Phil and Paul’s commentary was in ‘world feed’ style in that there were no mentions of NBC (or any other network) in what everyone other than NBC viewers would hear. Their standard of commentary was such that most English language broadcasters (other than Eurosport) would take that feed.
Paul Sherwen would fill whilst Phil Ligget talked in and out of NBC ad breaks. The problem with this is that when Phil rejoined the ‘world’ commentary he’d very often repeat what Paul had just been saying. There might be a dramatic moment you’d really expect Phil Ligget to commentate on but it ended up being Paul Sherwen because Phil was tied up with an NBC ad break. Although technically the expert summariser Paul became a very good co-commentator so this wasn’t the problem it might have been. ITV had to make sure their break lengths fitted the opt in / out points that were provided to make things sound clean.
The bigger problem came when ITV started to increase their live coverage. For the past few years NBC had an exclusive window with Phil and Paul for a period of time (an hour or 90 minutes I think) during the early part of a stage. This meant that ITV would have to use Gary Imlach and Chris Boardman to talk over the pictures before they could join Phil and Paul.
ITV dropped them in 2016 because they wanted control over the commentary. They’d got fed up having to constantly work to a count in to join commentary so decided they’d now got a good enough replacement in Ned Boulting and David Millar. To be fair they’ve got very good- when the chaotic situation happened on Mont Vonetux (that lead to Chris Froome starting to run up the road) their commentary was clearer and better than that of Ligget and Sherwen. I say that as someone who always regarded them as the voices of le tour.