American Lance Armstrong will get his first taste of racing long-distance triathlon on the Big Island this weekend when he competes at Saturday’s Rohto Ironman 70.3 Hawaii triathlon.
Armstrong will make the start with the experience of winning at this distance, thanks to his victory at Ironman 70.3 Florida two weeks ago. Although the pro field for the Hawaii race is smaller than it was in Florida, it will arguably be much more competitive.
The seven-time Tour de France winner will likely utilize the same tactics that earned him the Florida win: going all-out on the bike.
“At least it seems—and it’s not a knock on other people’s tactics—but for me, my run is not going to be affected by my effort on the bike,” Armstrong told Triathlete editor-in-chief Julia Polloreno in an interview. “It’s probably a better strategy for me in the future to utilize my strengths.”
Facing off against the 40-year-old Armstrong will be two veterans of the sport in Chris Lieto and Greg Bennett, who both also happen to be age 40.
Lieto knows the Big Island, this distance and this course well. He finished second at this race last year and calls Kona home a good portion of the year. He’s also raced at the Ironman World Championship several times, giving him detailed knowledge of how to handle the always-changing conditions.
The super cyclists will take on a skilled runner in Australia’s Greg Bennett. Although he is one of the most decorated athletes in our sport, the distance and Hawaii are somewhat new to Bennett (he did win Ironman 70.3 Augusta in September of 2009). Bennett does have the unique distinction of already punching his ticket to October’s Ironman World Championship, thanks to a win at the 2011 Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship and a validation at the 2012 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship. Everyone else on the start list, including Armstrong and Lieto, will be chasing valuable points on Saturday.
While these three are the solid race favorites, there are a few other names who could contend for the title, including Germany’s Maik Twelsiek and the United States’ Tim Marr.
The women’s race will likely be a battle between the United States’ Linsey Corbin and Canada’s Melanie McQuaid. The two have already raced against each other twice this season. McQuaid gained the edge with a win at Ironman 70.3 California, while Corbin turned in a faster time at the Wildflower Long Course Triathlon to finish second. Defending champ Bree Wee of the United States will also be one to watch. She lives and trains in Kona and will likely hold a lead over Corbin and McQuaid out of the swim. Other women to watch include the United States’ Hillary Biscay and Australia’s Kate Bevilaqua.
– Lance Armstrong: Back On Top
– Video: Lance Armstrong Talks 70.3 Race Tactics
– Pro Bike: Lance Armstrong’s Trek Speed Concept
– From the Inside Triathlon Archives: Being Bennett
– Linsey Corbin From San Diego
– Video: Melanie McQuaid’s Breakout Race