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Biking fans flock for Lance, despite lies

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/12/2016 Angelo Risso

Setting their alarms early, hundreds of MAMILs arose on a calm Auckland morning to cycle alongside the world's most notorious drug cheat.

Older, stubbled, slightly grizzled, Lance Armstrong put out the clarion call to his Twitter followers on Monday to join him for a ride in the City of Sails.

The exiled seven-time Tour de France winner was in town on business and, with bike in tow, was looking to re-live the glory days down Tamaki Drive.

So at 6am on Tuesday, groups of mostly middle-aged men in their lycra (MAMILs) flocked to Mechanics Bay for a quiet pedal with the Texan.

At least 200 turned up, some with GoPros strapped to their helmets, others gripping the handlebar with one hand and a smartphone with the other.

It couldn't have gone any better for Armstrong, who arrived to a mass of flashes, selfies and pats on the back.

No-one present seemed especially concerned about the 45-year-old's fall from grace or the 2012 revocation of his Tours for doping.

Nor were they concerned about his arrogance and shamelessness after being caught red-handed.

"The whole sport was riddled with it and he was just king of the kids," 64-year-old cyclist Ian Margan said.

"He was still an amazing rider in his time, and he still is, presumably."

Off the pack went, rolling along the still Auckland waterfront towards Mission Bay before turning back to the city.

Plenty dropped off along the way, exhausted, but a good chunk made it back to where they started 45 minutes earlier.

Armstrong was humbled by the showing, he said, before being summarily bundled away by security.

For those present, they went back to their lives satisfied with a selfie snapped, an autograph signed or an anecdote earned.

Now they can say they've ridden with Lance Armstrong.

"I saw the news articles, having a read, and thought I'd lend a little support," 36-year-old Edward Levy said.

"We all know the history."

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