Lance Armstrong brought traffic to a standstill in Paisley (web link) today as more than 200 people joined an impromptu bike ride with the seven-times Tour de France winner.
Pictures and story thx to British press coverage. Armstrong, 37, issued an open invitation to riders via a Twitter post yesterday, which read: "Hey Glasgow, Scotland! I'm coming your way tomorrow. Who wants to go for a bike ride?" The American is in Scotland to watch U2 play Hampden Park tonight but fancied a bike ride ahead of next week's Tour of Ireland, where he is due to compete.
In pouring rain, (Scottish summer!!) Armstrong was mobbed by fans and the media as he arrived at Ashtree House Hotel, Paisley, shortly before 1pm. Dressed in black Lycra, he expressed his surprise so many people had turned up to ride with him and revealed he had not been training much for the three-day Tour of Ireland. Graeme Obree, double world champion and former world record holder, joined Armstrong on his ride today. The 43-year-old Scot, who won gold in the 4,000 metres individual pursuit in 1993 and 1995, revealed he had never raced Armstrong but was looking forward to meeting him.
"It was short notice but to get the chance to meet him - he's done so much for charity and everything else - it would be a privilege," said Obree, who broke the one-hour distance record in 1993 and 1994.
"It will be fantastic and all my friends would be jealous. He does have such a draw; it's just incredible."
Of the weather, Obree added: "It will be just as enjoyable as it always is on a wet day in Paisley but with Lance here, it'll be a real sunshine day."
CALL IT the power of Twitter or the power of Lance. Yesterday at 10am, seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong sent out a tweet to all his fans.
“Good morning Dublin. Who wants to ride this afternoon? I do. 5:30pm @ the roundabout of Fountain Rd and Chesterfield Ave. See you there”. The message was short, but the clarion call to every amateur cyclist was loud and clear. This was one for their grandchildren.
No other cyclist, probably in history, could have sent out such a message at short notice and attracted such a colossal crowd to the Phoenix Park.
Armstrong has had to deal with persistent, but never proven, allegations of performance-enhancing drug taking all his career, but his fans believe him and revere him as the greatest cyclist of all time.
By 5.30pm, gardaí estimated that 1,200 cyclists had gathered at the appointed place.