Crowe in bike duel with gossip writer

AN Australian newspaper mocked Russell Crowe for smoking and shovelling down a fatty meal after a recent bike ride, so the notoriously salty actor set out to prove he is still in gladiator shape — by challenging the paper’s gossip columnist to a duel by bicycle.

Crowe, who has been photographed looking slimmer in recent months, was apparently none too pleased by a column published in Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday entitled “Smokes and fatty foods the fitness regime for Rusty”. The paper mocked Crowe after he was photographed pausing during a recent bike ride with his personal trainer to puff on a cigarette and chow down on three tacos and a soft drink.

In a story published yesterday, the paper said Crowe’s spokesman called up gossip columnist Annette Sharp the next day and said: “Get on your bike. Russell wants you to go riding with him. Are you ready to die?”

Sharp accepted the challenge and the pair met at dawn for a 20-kilometre ride through the city. Video of the race shows Sharp struggling to keep up while Crowe zooms along unfazed. At one point, Sharp fell off her bike.

Still, Crowe gave Sharp some credit, telling her she was a better biker than Australian director Baz Luhrmann. “You’re twice the man Baz is,” he said.

After their duel, she wrote: “I was sliding exuberantly down the track when, with a thump, I came off the seat and landed painfully on the crossbar.

“This was surely it — his victory moment. His victory moment, with me sprawled in the dirt.

“Yet he was gracious, concerned — the perfect gentleman as he rolled up my trousers to check my knee.”

She added: “When you make a living throwing stones you expect that one day someone is going to lob one back.

“This was that day.”

Crowe’s manager Grant Vandenberg had no comment. “I think everything’s been said in the paper,” he said.

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