Lance still in a spin over crowd at park fun ride
Published 27/08/2009 | 00:00
THE world's most successful cyclist, Lance Armstrong, was still all a-twitter yesterday over his surprise Dublin bike ride -- when he brought along more than 1,000 new friends.
Around 1,200 people woke up yesterday with sore legs after being led around the Phoenix Park by Armstrong in a Tuesday evening 'ride-out'.
The unexpectedly large crowd massed after Armstrong posted an open invitation on his Twitter web page. Yesterday he said he was "surprised and flattered" at the enormous turnout.
It was supposed to be a simple four-lap circuit but it turned into a 36km epic in which the seven-time Tour de France champion from Texas rode with delighted cyclists from all over the country.
Armstrong acknowledged yesterday it was rare in modern sport that people could participate with those at the top and he said he was only happy to oblige on Tuesday.
"I think the essence is very simple. You have a man, a bicycle, a public park and an open road. I would go and do that anyway," he told the Irish Independent.
"I think the perception a lot of times is those guys. I can't play 18 with Tiger (Woods), I can't get in the ring with Ali, I can't play soccer with Pele. Those sports are different.
"Cycling is a sport of the people, and as you've probably watched the tour, sometimes a little too close to the people.
"Those parks and those public parks are open, we all pay for those settings. You have a great park (Phoenix) here, utilise it," he said.
"I was surprised, but also very flattered that hundreds and hundreds, if not more than a thousand, showed up, on 10 hours' notice," Armstrong added.
He also paid an emotional tribute to Ted Kennedy calling him a hero who had helped lead the fight against cancer.
Describing the death of the 77-year-old as a "sad, sad day" Armstrong said: "May he rest in peace."
The cyclist revealed Mr Kennedy had broken down in tears during a meeting with him as the pair discussed the disease.
Mr Kennedy, whose life was marked by a series of family tragedies, wept as he told how his son, Edward Jr, lost his right leg to bone cancer in November 1973 when the boy was just 12.
"We'll miss him, also for his help in the fight against cancer around the world," said Armstrong.