'It's humbling, it's great to be here' - Lance Armstrong surprised by huge turnout for early morning Auckland bike ride

Disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong says he was surprised and "humbled" by the 2000 or so Kiwis who turned out to join him on an earlier morning ride along Auckland's Tamaki Drive today.

The disgraced US sportsman was more than happy to meet some of the hundreds who turned up. Source: 1 NEWS

"I never know what the expect. I assume there'd be more of you guys (the media) and less of these guys (fans)," Armstrong said after the ride.

"It's humbling, It's great to be here."

The cyclists turned out on Auckland's waterfront under a clear sky today to get a chance to ride alongside controversial cycling figure.

Armstrong issued an open invite for Kiwis to join him on a bike ride this morning.

"See you at 6am!" Armstrong tweeted last night as a reminder.

Armstrong was asked by media about being stripped of seven Tour de France titles after he admitted taking banned performance enhancing substances.

"We all sort of know the story by now," he said.

The disgraced US sportsman had a lot of company for his ride this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

"For me the most important things are ... try to raise five kids and fit myself. 

"People think I'm curled up in the foetal position, but they're wrong, you know what I mean. 

"They're wrong ... we're in a good place, my kids are in a good place."

Yesterday, Kiwi Ironman Cameron Brown copped backlash for going on a ride with Armstrong on Sunday.

The disgraced cyclist expected more members of the media than cyclists when he headed out this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

But former triathlon world champion Rick Wells has defended the convicted drug cheat's presence in New Zealand.

Having met with Armstrong for a leisurely ride on Sunday, Brown was targeted on social media, with many outraged at his praise for the seven-time former Tour de France winner.

The criticism so fierce that Brown has removed himself from the media spotlight as a result.

Rick Wells says the Kiwi Ironman has done nothing to deserve the backlash he's received for meeting with the disgraced cyclist. Source: 1 NEWS

In the wake of the controversy, Wells has leapt to Brown's defence, praising the Ironman as being one of New Zealand sports' good guys.

"Of all the athletes Cam Brown is the most honest," Wells told 1NEWS.

"He's a guy I really look up to and admire for his integrity, it's uncompromising."

Hundreds of cyclists on Auckland's Tamaki Drive with Lance Armstrong. Source: 1 NEWS

However, Wells also urged understanding when discussing Armstrong, a cyclist whom he competed against as a teenager.

"We all know Lance Armstrong's a cheat," Wells said.

"I know what he's done, I don't condone it, I don't like, he's done it, we move on."

Wells also spoke of understanding the bigger picture, and that there are more important things than sport at the end of the day.

"He's not a bad guy, he's not an axe murderer. He's just a cyclist who rose to the top in a crooked sport anyway."