From bike riding in your bathers to making the distance
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The 70.3 Panama received quite a bit of hype prior to the race when word got out that 7-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was going to be in the event. Plus entries from fast ITU Pros Bevan Docherty, Ivan Vasilyev and Bertrand Billard promised to make this early season race very interesting.
Matty Reed who also has quite a bit of short course experience and speed took charge of the 1.2 mile point-to-point swim and managed to be first out of the water in 18:49. Reed had Vasilyev and Docherty right on his heels, and Rasmus Henning was next. Lance Armstrong managed a 19:22 swim that allowed him to be 10th out of the water, with Chris Lieto in 12th position, another 16 seconds back.
It didn't take very long for Bertrand Billard to move into the lead and the French Pro who had won 5i50 Klagenfurt in 2011 and finished second at 70.3 Mallorca, managed to pull away from all the chasers. By the 20k mark Billard was up 1:40 on a group that contained Henning, Reed, Vasilyev, Armstrong, Lieto, Richie Cunningham and Bert Jammaer. Armstrong and Lieto eventually pulled away from the others in the group. They were soon after joined by Argentinean Pro Oscar Galindez, who had steadily moved through the field. At one point the gap to Billard was over 2 minutes, but that did not last.
During the second half of the bike the chasing 3 pulled back Billard, but that hard day of chasing eventually cost Galindez and he fell off the pace. Lieto and Armstrong caught Billard with a few miles to go in the bike segment, despite the valiant effort of the French Pro to hold them off. Lieto was first back into transition, 6 seconds up on Armstrong and 9 on Billard. But according to Ironmanlive, the fastest bike split belonged to Galindez.
Once on the run, Lieto pulled away, but Armstrong seemed reasonably comfortable and ran in second position about 12 seconds behind the Danville, CA resident. Billard though paid for his brave effort on the bike and soon fell off the pace with Galindez moving into third. 3 miles into the run Armstrong passed Lieto and slowly pulled away. Docherty soon moved into second position but Armstrong was defiant up front and held on to a 1:15 lead halfway through the run.
Docherty pulled to within 55 seconds with 4 miles to go and Richie Cunningham was now running in third position. Docherty soon had Armstrong in his sight and caught the Texan with about a mile to go. Armstrong tried to hold on but the Kiwi was too strong and pulled away. Docherty crossed the line first in 3:50:13 and Armstrong held on to second place 42 seconds later. Cunningham took the final podium spot and Henning grabbed fourth.
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