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Lance’s Twitter ride attracts thousands

January 17, 2010

Cycling stars Lance Armstrong and Robbie McEwen took over Adelaide’s coastal roads on Saturday morning with an impromptu social ride.

Using Twitter, the pair announced two days ago that they were leaving from Glenelg’s Wigley Reserve at 9am for a practice ride.

Police estimate the ride attracted between 4,000 to 5,000 cyclists of all abilities, who rode north along the coast to Semaphore and back.

About a dozen officers on motorbikes used a rolling stoppage to shut down the roads.

“(It was) busy, chaotic – but it was a controlled chaos,” Armstrong said.

“It’s certainly the biggest one I’ve been a part of, we gave them a little more notice than is typical.

“We had a lot of support from the local community and police, which was really helpful, everyone was very mindful and respectful.

“There were a few crashes that I could hear, but it was great.”

Armstrong has used Twitter to announce several of these rides around the world, usually with only a few hours’ notice.

This time Armstrong and McEwen announced the ride on Thursday and it easily had the best turnout.

“The field stretched for kilometres and kilometres … it’s almost like the bunch that we normally ride in, although a little hairier,” Armstrong said.

“This was unique, because I’ve never done one where you turn back and you see how many people – there were streams of people.

“Most (of them) tried to do a u-turn and come back with us.”

SA Police Traffic Planning Co-Ordinator Senior Sergeant Harry McCallum said there were no major incidents.

“We got through safely, our people managed it to their satisfaction,” he said.

“In reality, it was like Brown’s Cows, but our plan allowed for that.”

South Australian Premier Mike Rann, who is up for re-election soon, greeted McEwen and Armstrong before the ride started.

“Hey, where’s your bike? – look at all these voters!” Armstrong told the premier.

The Texan has won a record seven Tours de France, while McEwen is one of Australia’s greatest cyclists, both in Adelaide to compete in the January 17-24 Tour Down Under.

Sgt McCallum said the SA Police had assumed Armstrong would hold a Twitter ride in Adelaide and had done plenty of planning.

“By Thursday, we’d worked out where it would go.

“We knew it was coming, it was just a matter of getting the logistics in place.”

The ride initially went at a slow pace, but Armstrong, McEwen and the other ProTour riders at the head of the massive bunch soon realised the danger.

Some riders were trying to ride next to Armstrong and take their picture, so the leaders ramped up the pace to string out the bunch.

AAP

Tags: sport, cycling, australia, sa, adelaide-5000

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