Even disgraced drug cheat Lance Armstrong seemed bemused by the yellow jersey in the melee of cyclists scrambling to ride alongside him on Tamaki Drive this morning.
I mean, there's the protocol. Wear the Kazakhstan national champion's jersey if you like. Or Bob's Auto Repairs eye-stabbing design. But there are two jerseys you do not wear unless you've earned them: the world road race champion's rainbow stripes and the Tour de France's yellow jersey.
Not that Armstrong himself can wear the yellow jersey anymore. He's got seven framed and hanging in his pool room in Austin, Texas; kind of like sad mementos of his glory years, when he thrilled cycling fans such as myself. Before mounting evidence and then his own admission that he'd won those jerseys unfairly and was stripped of the wins in the record books.
Disappointment and disgust doesn't seem to be evenly spread. There are some in the cycling community who despise Armstrong and other cheats. I once interviewed Australian cycling great Stuart O'Grady just after he admitted using EPO in his early years. The website that published that interview had to disable the comments section so virulent were some of the views expressed.
Being a regular on social media, Armstrong must have had to suck up a lot of personal abuse. These days he doesn't lash back as he did in the early years. He speaks understandingly of the people who castigate him, as he did to the media this morning.
And there are still the fans, several hundred of them who came excitedly to catch a glimpse of him this morning. Among the lycra outfits on show were those from Discovery Channel, US Postal and Radio Shack, three of the professional teams he raced for, as well as Mellow Johnnys, the bike shop he part-owns in Texas and the charity foundation Livestrong, which he was forced to resign from.
Jumbish Jain, from Melbourne, was kitted head-to-toe in Livestrong. He had heard yesterday that Armstrong was going for a ride in Auckland and booked his overnight flight from Australia immediately. "What made you do that?" I asked him. "Oh my God," he replied. "How much time have you got? The man is amazing".
I asked a younger fan, 13-year-old Thomas, riding just behind Armstrong what he thought of him. "I think the media is unfair to him," he said. But, I asked, hadn't he done bad things? "Yes, but he was still an awesome athlete," said the young man.
So we rolled along though Mission Bay and Kohimirama, riders jostling and leapfrogging on the outside to get somewhere close to the man, like a slow-moving celebrity circus, many of them angling to take selfies while riding just in front. It was probably the slowest peloton Armstrong has been in for a while, although he quite often invites people to "Ride with Lance" in different parts of the world. We got to St Heliers and turned around.
I got alongside for a moment and asked him about We Du Sports, the cycling brand he's created but hasn't explained what he's planning to do with it. "I mean, it's a thing I'm working on," he said. "it's about suffering." Solitary suffering, that is - what sport is about.
Back at the Mechanics Bay heliport, reporters and camera operators elbowed their way into the mass of cyclists. He answered questions with a level-headed grace. "It is what it is," he said to another question about his fall from grace. "I'm 45 now, I'll still have to deal with it when I'm 90".
Somewhere to the side someone shouted, "You're amazing Lance!". He cracked a wry grin. Then his local escort took him back through the city in the direction of Westhaven, about 50 starstruck cyclists still trailing along.