Veteran New Zealand triathlete Cameron Brown has enjoyed a bike ride around Auckland's waterfront with disgraced Tour de France cheat Lance Armstrong.
Armstrong arrived in New Zealand from Houston this morning and is here to film a commercial while he is also welcoming local cyclists to join him for a group ride on Tuesday morning.
Brown, a 12-time winner or Ironman New Zealand, understands the negative perception many people have of Armstrong but felt the opportunity to ride with him was too good to pass up.
"I watched him for 10 years competing in the Tour de France and it was quite incredible to ride with him," Brown to Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch.
"I'd never met him before so it was pretty special.
"My little boy's getting into cycling and triathlon now so I took him along and Lance was great. It was pretty cool."
Brown acknowledged Armstrong had severely damaged cycling's credibility and hurt a lot of people along the way to ultimately being stripped of seven Tour de France titles and receiving a lifetime ban from the United States Anti-Doping Agency in 2012.
However, he has sympathy for the 45-year-old and understands Armstrong is making efforts to apologise to people whose lives and careers were affected by his cheating and his attempts to cover up his actions.
"I don't condone what Armstrong did," he said.
"I think it was a part of the era of what they did in cycling and you'd hope that they've cleaned it up by now but I'm still sure there's drugs out there in that sport.
"Everyone did it in that sport but he probably regrets how he went about it and what he did to some people and he's maybe going around the world to try and apologise to a lot of them.
"I think he's probably just trying to forget about the past and move on. And hopefully people can forgive him but probably there's a lot of people that can't."
Former New Zealand cyclist Stephen Swart was one of the first to implicate Armstrong in allegations of doping back in 1997. Brown confirmed suggestions Armstrong was keen to meet with Swart during his time here in an attempt to reconcile their differences.
"Definitely, Swarty was part of the team with Armstrong for many, many years.
"I think you look at his past and you hope they can forgive each other but people take a grudge for some people for a long, long time."
Brown admits he considered the pros and cons of associating with Armstrong but was comfortable with his decision.
"Definitely. I think you've got to forgive people in the end. You can talk about the past for as long as you want but history is history."
The pair enjoyed a post-ride coffee in downtown Auckland but Brown said Armstrong's past controversies were not discussed.
"I'd love to pick his brain and talk about all that but there's probably a million people that would want to have the same conversation with him.
"We sat down for a coffee with him but there was no real talk (about his past)."
Armstrong was looking forward to playing a round of golf at Titirangi this afternoon and Brown encouraged fans to join them for a bike ride starting at Mechanics Bay at 6am on Tuesday.
"Just turn up and go for a spin and hopefully get to have a chat with Lance Armstrong."