Lance Armstrong is a champion once again.
In just his fourth race since he joined the triathlon circuit earlier this year, the forty-year-old cycling legend won the Ironman 70.3 in Haines City, Florida.
Armstrong had previously raced in Panama, Galveston (pictured above), and St. Croix, finishing second, seventh, and third, respectively.
As Lisa Coffey of the Lakeland newspaper the Ledger reported, Armstrong came out of the 1.2 mile swimming portion of the race in fifth place, then stormed ahead during the 56-mile bicycling leg, opening up a lead that he was able to maintain during the 13.2 mile running segment. His winning time of three hours, 45 minutes, and 38 seconds was eleven minutes ahead of second-place finisher Maxim Kriet, a two-time winner of the Florida race (and thirteen years Armstrong's junior).
"I got out of the water in third and on the first mile of the bike, he was in front. I couldn't keep the pace," Kriet told The Ledger.
What was different about Armstrong's effort this time, as Raymond Britt of RunTri.com showed, was his performance as a runner, though Armstrong himself said that the biggest factor was his management of calories and hydration. "The race is run, bike and swim, but the eating and drinking is the fourth and fifth part. I tried a few things and seemed to nail it," he said during after the race, an observation he reiterated via Twitter:
Helluva day here at #IM703FL. I felt pretty good I must say. Think I finally figured out the nutrition component which has been dogging me.
— Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) May 20, 2012
The folks at Armstrong's Austin bike shop, Mellow Johnny's, also had some fun congratulating him:
Way to go @ lancearmstrong on taking your Ironman Florida Win.. MJ's Employee Reviews next week, you've got a bright future
— mellowjohnnys (@mellowjohnnys) May 20, 2012
Competing in triathlons isn't new to Armstrong--it's something he excelled at as a teenager before turning to cycling full-time. Now the retired seven-time Tour de France winner is is trying to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, on October 13.
He's well on his way to doing so but has to compete in at least one full 140.6 mile race to be eligible. According to the Ledger's Coffey, that's expected to happen June 24 in France.
See Lance cross the finish line in this report from ABC Action News in Tampa: