CYCLING icon, cancer survivor and Twitter fan Lance Armstrong delighted Scottish cyclists by organising an impromptu "tour d'Ecosse" from the Sutherland town of Dornoch yesterday.
As many as 1,000 people made their way to the village to follow the Texan seven-time Tour de France winner on a picturesque 30-mile route up the coast and inland along single-track country roads.
The event was the latest of the sportsman's so-called Twitter Rides, which he has held in Los Angeles, Paisley, Dublin, and Adelaide - where about 10,000 riders turned out.
On Saturday evening, while enjoying a night of live music in Dornoch's Eagle Hotel, Armstrong posted: "Alright Scotland - it's on. Twitter ride! Meet 5pm tomorrow (Sunday] in Dornoch (Sutherland County] at The Eagle Pub. 30 mile loop."
Armstrong is an avid golfer and has been in Scotland since Thursday staying at the exclusive Skibo Castle, where Madonna and Guy Ritchie were married in 2000.
Armstrong is famous for overcoming cancer before winning the 2200-mile road race on seven consecutive occasions, and is considered an inspiration to many of his fans.
Rob Shaw, 45, from Evanton on the Cromarty Firth, was there with his wife and son.
Speaking after the ride he said: "I think the guy's a hero. It was a great event, there were people who'd come from all over Scotland, Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh and Glasgow. There was so many of us that the police had to close the road in Dornoch.
"Lance was leading and when we came back to Skibo Castle, that's where he said goodbye and we all came back to Dornoch. He was fantastic though, he stayed around and posed for photographs and signed autographs."
Despite some rain along the route and a few accidents as people slipped on the mud, by the time most cyclists returned to Dornoch they were able to enjoy a beer outside the packed hotel.
Gerwain Steele, manager of the Eagle, said: "We didn't know anything about this until this morning, fortunately a member of staff is on Twitter and spotted it and then we had to make sure it was real. Once we realised it was, I called in all the staff to be here from around three o'clock."
Following the event, Armstrong Tweeted: "Thanks Scotland for coming out for a little ride. To the 1000+ who came over Dornoch - you rock! Keep ridin'."
Armstrong is considered to be the greatest road cyclist in history.
He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 at the age of 25 but made a full recovery before winning the Tour de France each year between 1999 and 2005.
He is a major supporter of cancer charity Livestrong.