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American Andy Potts and Canadian Angela Naeth took the wins at today’s rainy Ironman 70.3 St. Croix event. American Lance Armstrong finished on the podium to earn valuable points toward his goal of qualifying for the Ironman World Championship.
Potts led the men out of the water, with Stéphane Poulat following close behind. Armstrong came into T1 with a group about 80 seconds down of the pair. Armstrong quickly went to work on the bike. At mile 21 of the ride came the famed hill known as “the beast”, which is a 7/10-mile stretch made up of a 600-foot climb with an average grade of 14 percent and a maximum grade of 21 percent. Poulat crested the hill first, but Armstrong was only 12 seconds back. By mile 45, Armstrong had found his way to the front and had built a minute lead over Poulat and Potts.
At the end of the 56-mile ride Armstrong owned a gap of 1:45 over the pair. The podium was pretty well decided at the start of the run. Behind Poulat and Potts the next fastest chaser was New Zealand’s Terenzo Bozzone at just over five minutes back. At the front of the race, the seven-time Tour de France champion held his lead through the first three miles of the half marathon, but he couldn’t keep the fast-running former Olympians away. Eventually Potts and Poulat started chipping away at Armstrong, with Potts taking over the lead at mile 8. Poulat passed Armstrong a couple of miles later and that’s how the top-three would finish.
Potts ran a 1:12:50 half marathon to take the 4:03:31 win, his second 70.3 victory of the season. Poulat finished second in 4:05:25. Armstrong earned a podium spot with a finish time of 4:07:08. The trip to St. Croix was well worth Armstrong’s efforts as he secured 585 points towards his Kona Pro Ranking. According to his previously-announced schedule, Armstrong will next head back to the mainland for May 20’s Ironman 70.3 Florida event.
The women’s race kicked off with Germany’s Nina Kraft and the United States’ Mary Beth Ellis building a commanding lead out of the 1.2-mile swim. The pair headed into T1 in just over 27 minutes. A group containing the rest of the contenders, including Canada’s Angela Naeth, exited the water at around 29:45. The gap was no problem for the fast-riding Naeth. She found her way to Ellis by mile 37. Despite suffering a flat tire in the final mile of the bike, Naeth managed to make it to T2 with a nearly two-minute lead over Ellis.
Behind the fast-riding pair, the rest of the field struggled to keep pace. Kraft was the third women into T2, but she sat 10 minutes back of Ellis and 12 minutes back of Naeth. Naeth outpaced Ellis on the run with a 1:18:48 half marathon, easily giving her the win in 4:28:12. Ellis finished second at 4:33:34.
Ironman 70.3 St. Croix
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – May 6, 2012
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Andy Potts (USA) 4:03:31
2. Stéphane Poulat (FRA) 4:05:25
3. Lance Armstrong (USA) 4:07:08
4. Alessandro Degasperi (ITA) 4:08:53
5. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 4:10:04
1. Angela Naeth (CAN) 4:28:12
2. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 4:33:34
3. Sara Gross (CAN) 4:46:43
4. Nina Kraft (GER) 4:47:44
5. Tamara Kozulina 4:47:51