Newspaper editor turned TV presenter Piers Morgan has been trolling cyclists on Twitter, calling them “cretinous busy-bodies” – and among those to hit back is disgraced seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, continuing a long-running feud between the pair.
Yesterday, Morgan told his 4.8 million followers he would wear a helmet camera while driving “to catch cyclists behaving like cretinous busy-bodies.”
That tweet was bound to grab attention, with many replies defending cyclists and pointing out it is motorists who make the roads dangerous for vulnerable users such as pedestrians and people on bikes, while others took Morgan’s side, urging that cyclists should be licensed and, yes, pay non-existent “road tax.”
But given the history between the pair, perhaps the most arresting reply was the pithy response from Armstrong, who himself has 3.8 million followers on the social network.
@piersmorgan somebody has too much time on their hands...
— Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) February 17, 2016
In October 2012, when the United States Anti-Doping Agency published its reasoned decision to ban Armstrong from sport for life and strip him of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005, Morgan was among the mainstream press commenters who put the boot in.
Morgan, sacked as Daily Mirror editor in 2004 after it published a hoax story claiming British soldiers abused Iraqi prisoners, and whose CNN show in the US, Piers Morgan Live, was cancelled in 2014 due to poor ratings, tweeted: "Nice guy that Lance Armstrong -- a nasty, vengeful bully as well as the world's biggest sporting cheat.
"He's the biggest cheat in sporting history and those still lauding him as a 'brave hero' need to ssssshhhh. @lancearmstrong #LiveWrong," he went on.
However, with Piers Morgan Live still running at the time on CNN, he added: "Yes, I would LOVE to interview @lancearmstrong – but he hasn't got the guts. Or have you, Lance? #LiveWrong."
Armstrong’s televised confession was finally made to rival chat show host Oprah Winfrey, in something of a coup for her network – and, perhaps, a snub to Morgan’s own CNN show.
Now US editor at large for Mail Online, Morgan was particularly scathing about Armstrong in this column from last year, although few would take exception with his description of the Texan as “a despicably selfish piece of work who tried to ruin many lives, not save them, in his desperate quest for power.”
And just this month he compared Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton to Armstrong.
Referring to her defence for controversially accepting $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs between the end of her tenure as secretary of state and her current campaign for the presidential nomination, he wrote: “I carefully studied Hillary’s face as the CNN cameras closed in.
“It reminded me not just of [her husband] Bill’s when he was caught (regularly) with his pants down, but also of cycling cheat Lance Armstrong when he used to angrily insist he’d never (regularly) taken drugs.
“It’s a face of part fake innocence, part defiance, part anger and part indignation.
“And as with Bill and Lance, these lies are going to come back and bite Hillary where the sun don’t shine,” he added.
Earlier in the same piece, describing his mounting anger at Mrs Clinton’s protestations of innocence, he gave a brief glimmer of hope to the many people with whom he has feuded over the years, a list that includes the likes of Private Eye editor and Have I Got News For You panellist Ian Hislop, and former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
“I nearly choked on my glass of wine,” he revealed.
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.