Lance Armstrong and Jessica Jacobs take strong wins in Ironman Florida 70.3.
Lance Armstrong was welcomed to his fourth Ironman 70.3 event by hot, windy conditions and ranks of cheering fans on the banks of Lake Eva Park in Florida. The dramatic race saw Armstrong cruise to an authoritative first win, while Ironman Florida Champion Jessica Jacobs proved herself a running force to be reckoned with.
In the men’s race, the USA’s David Kahn led on the 1.9km swim to splash towards transition after 23:29 in the water, followed closely by strong all-rounder Francesc Godoy of Spain. Lance Armstrong (USA) was once again placed highly in the swim being fourth out of the water in 24:52.
Third in the 2011 race, Kahn was looking to take a step up on the podium as he broke out onto the bike leg in the lead. His first-on-the-course position was short lived however, as Armstrong aimed to prove his biking prowess. By five miles into the course, the Texan had wiped his 1min23sec deficit down to 45 seconds and showed only signs of speeding up. Godoy, second on the road, was soon overtaken by The Boss, who went on to catch his countryman after 20 of the course’s 56 miles.
Armstrong continued to power away with unmatched strength and speed, showing no sign of either holding back or the ill effects of an incomplete nutrition strategy as in previous races. The Ukraine’s Maxim Kriat, who took the win over Armstrong in 70.3 St Croix, chased hard to limit losses, but by the time Armstrong wheeled into transition after cruising the last 10 miles, he had secured an unbeatable fastest bike split of the day in 2:01:13, averaging nearly 28mph. This was enough to create 10min41secs lead at the beginning of the half-marathon run course.
Godoy, Kriat and Kahn arrived next in a draft-free group, with the former pair dropping Kahn as they got underway with their runs. If they were hoping for Armstrong to fade on final leg as in previous races, their wishes were unfulfilled as 22 years after his last triathlon win in Florida, the Texan showed his true running potential. Never letting up for an instant, Armstrong ran to his first Ironman 70.3 win with a 1:15:56 fastest split of the day to cross to tape arms held aloft in 3:45:38.
Best of the rest was Kriat, who pulled away from Godoy to take second in 3:56:56, while the Spaniard rounded out the podium in 3:59:45.
In the women’s race, Amanda Stevens of the USA once again used her powerful swim to pull clear of the pack, leaving the water in 25:04, 1min37secs ahead of Germany’s Nina Craft.
Stevens put in a powerful bike performance to stay ahead of any chasers for the whole course, coming into transition after 2:25:00 on the road. Behind her, fellow American Jennifer Tetrick was fighting her 5min20secs deficit with the fastest bike split of the day – 2:22:01 – and moving up into second in the process.
By the time the leading pair was onto the run, there was only one minute between them. Stevens’ hard bike effort soon seemed to show in her running legs and she was unable to sustain the pace, allowing Tetricks to come past her into first on the course.
While it looked for a while like the pair would clinch the top podium steps, three-time Ironman Champion Jessica Jacobs (USA) flew by at a stunning pace. The penultimate swimmer from the water in 33:33, Jacobs made up only 1min21secs of her 8min29secs deficit on the bike, making her appearance at the front of the run a huge upset.
Jacobs’ 1:21:53 fastest run split saw her cross the finish in 4:24:30, 1min39secs up on Tetrick (4:36:09), while Stevens held off Craft to take third in 4:28:19.
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