Lance Armstrong won his first Half Ironman triathlon race in Florida, where the seven-time Tour de France cycling champion finished more than 11 minutes ahead of the runner-up.
It was the fourth event at the 70.3-mile (113-kilometer) distance for the 40-year-old Armstrong, who is seeking to qualify for the Ironman World Championship after quitting professional cycling in February 2011. He finished second in his Ironman debut in Panama in February, was seventh in Galveston, Texas, in April and placed third in St. Croix last month.
Armstrong, who competed as a professional triathlete at age 18 before focusing on cycling, was in fifth place after the 1.2-mile swim yesterday and took the lead about 20 miles into the 56-mile ride. He stayed in front throughout the 13.1-mile run to finish in a time of 3 hours, 45 minutes and 38 seconds.
“I can’t deny or lie that I didn’t want to come back to the sport and win some races,” Armstrong said, according to Ironman’s website. “I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into in Panama, but in Galveston and St. Croix I wanted to be in contention for the win and I wasn’t there.”
Maxim Kriat of Ukraine finished second to Armstrong in a time of 3:56.56.
Armstrong, who won the Tour de France -- cycling’s most prestigious race -- each year from 1999 to 2005, will next compete in a 70.3-mile Ironman event in Hawaii on June 2. He’s also scheduled to race a 140.6-mile full Ironman event June 24 in Nice, France, in his quest to earn enough points to qualify for the World Championship in Hawaii on Oct. 13.