A Melbourne cyclist insists that cricketer Shane Warne deliberately drove into him with his Mercedes, at odds with the latter’s version of events of an incident that took place yesterday evening as he drove home from the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
However, the cyclist’s version has also been supported by an anonymous witness who approached a local newspaper as the incident grabbed national attention after Warne started talking about the incident on Twitter.
It’s likely the incident would have attracted little attention had it not been for an increasingly irate series of tweets posted by Warne about it on the social networking website.
Those came just days after Warne had gone on the site to call for cyclists to pay ‘rego’ – in other words, to have their bikes licensed and registered.
In yesterday’s incident, Warne claimed that the cyclist had hit his car as he moved past it and positioned his bike in front of it at traffic lights, then turned and delivered abuse at him.
He said he told the cyclist to get off the road, admitting that he clipped his tyre as he drove his Mercedes past him.
That doesn’t quite square with the cyclist’s own version of events, outlined in a letter sent to the Herald Sun and the website Cycling Tips, nor with the account given by an independent witness to the incident.
The latter told the Herald Sun: “He [Warne] literally did run over the bike.''
In his letter, the cyclist involved in the incident described how, after he had moved his bike into the centre lane at the lights, the driver – who had not yet realised was Warne – was shouting at him, yelling, “What are you doing? You don’t own the road! Get out of the way.”
The cyclist went on, “I shook my head and probably yelled something similarly inane back. Now even more agitated the driver continued to yell, ‘you don’t own the road.’
“I looked more closely and recognised him as Shane Warne, laughed and asked, “What are you doing?” and began to get ready to clip into my bike to continue the ride home.”
“But before I could the driver lurched his car forward forcing my bike wheel and almost my leg under the front of his car.
“Dumbfounded at how overtly aggressive the driver had been and aware that we were now holding up the traffic, I pulled my bike from under the car and attempted to continue riding. My wheel was jammed against the frame of my bike and the chain was tangled so I had to carry it to the footpath to fix it.”
According to Warne, “everyone was shaking their head at this bike rider as he was being very dangerous.”
Again, however, that conflicts with the cyclist’s own version of events, in which he describes how witnesses offered him help – along with details of Warne’s vehicle’s registration number.
The cyclist added: “I’d had no intention of making any of this public – I simply wanted deal with it privately and ask him to repair my bike.
“However Mr Warne, the public man that he is, seemed to want the whole thing in plain view. After reading his twitter account I discovered the comments he’d been making about cyclists in the previous days. I was surprised by how angry and frustrated he seemed to be.”
Both parties filed complaints with the police, although the latter advised each to explore a civil action instead "due to the minor nature of the incident."
Warne’s fiancee, actress Liz Hurley, tweeted yesterday evening: “Crikey,@warne888 was attacked by a mad cyclist. I'd have opened the car door into said loon's path had I been there,” but concluded that tweet by adding, “Keep calm, just kidding.”
In subsequent tweets, Hurley – or perhaps a PR adviser who had managed to wrestle her phone off her – said she sympathised with the dangers faced by cyclists in London.
“Cyclists get a pretty raw deal in London-very few bike lanes, insane lorry drivers & if they rode two abreast they'd get squashed flat,” she wrote.
She made it clear, however, that she wouldn’t be taking to the streets on two wheels any time soon. “I happen to be a fan of Boris Bikes, not that I'd get on one for love or money. Too dangerous. Plus, makes your thighs too muscular.”
Warne, who retired from test cricket in 2007, is currently playing for Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash Twenty20 tournament.
Chiara Paserini, the wife of one of Australia's current sporting heroes, Cadel Evans, added her voice to the debate on Twitter, saying, “I would be very scared of meeting someone like @warne888 during a bike ride. His hate towards cyclists is worrying. Glad I only ride a little!''
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.