Lance Armstrong’s blazing 2:01:46 bike split keyed his second Ironman 70.3 victory and Linsey Corbin’s 2:25:02 bike highlighted her win at the 9th annual Rohto Ironman 70.3 Honu Saturday in Hawaii.
Armstrong emerged from the swim in 3rd, just a few seconds behind Timothy Marr, then poured on the jets with a blazing bike that put 3:19 on key rival Chris Lieto and 6:55 on reigning Hy-Vee champion Greg Bennett. With Lieto fading due to a lingering foot injury, Bennett took up the chase and cut the margin to 3 minutes with two miles to go. But at the end, Armstrong’s swift bike allowed him to cruise to the finish with a 1:22:29 run that brought him to the line in 3:50:55. Bennett’s race-fastest 1:18:21 run in the Kona wind and heat brought him home second, 2:46 behind the seven-time Tour de France champion.
Both Armstrong and Bennett topped Chris McCormack’s 2007 course record.
Greg Bennett shook Armstrong’s hand at the finish and said the wind and heat were among the worst held ever seen in a 20-plus year career; "There were times when you were running in place, the winds were so strong," he told Ironman.com. "I make my living doing this, I can't imagine how tough it is for the age group competitors out there."
After his second-fastest 2:04:46 bike split, Lieto struggled through to a 1:33:41 run to hit the finish third in 4:05:55 and hold off 4th place Maik Twelsiek by 21 seconds.
At this point in his campaign to contest the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii this October, Armstrong looks very much for real in the 70.3 arenas with a 2nd at Panama, 7th at Galveston, 3rd at St. Croix, and wins at Florida and Honu. Next is a step up in distance at Ironman France.
Linsey Corbin emerged from the swim 1:40 back of Hilary Biscay and right in the middle of a pack of nine women around the 27 minute mark. Corbin than charged to the lead with a race-best 2:25:02 bike split that was 3 and a half minutes faster than her closest pursuer. Corbin’s 4:26:09 finish erased Michellie Jones’ 2005 course record and held off runner-up Julia Grant by 4:08 and the fast closing run of Beth Walsh by 5:38.
On the swim, Chris Lieto, stronger on the swim due to nursing a foot injury that kept him from run training and gave him more time in the pool, broke into a 10 seconds lead. But after 500 yards, Bennett, Armstrong and Maik Twelsiek joined the lead pack. Near the end of the swim, Marr, Bennett and Armstrong sprinted to lead a large pack to the finish.
Eight men finished within 16 seconds on the swim with Timothy Marr leading out with 23:16, Greg Bennett next in 23:17, Lance Armstrong third in 23:22, Maik Twelsiek next in 23:25, Guy Crawford next in 23:26, Chris Lieto tied with Ollie Whistler in 23:31 and Mark Bowstead next in 23:32.
Greg Bennett, still current with ITU-style transitions, emerged first on the bike – 20 seconds ahead of Armstrong with a pack of five men chasing. Driving like an arrow through the sidewinds, Armstrong rode hard up the climb to Hawi and arrived at the turnaround with a 1:55 advantage on Chris Lieto, 2:40 on Greg Bennett, 5:07 on Maik Twelsiek, 8:58 on Guy Crawford and 9:49 on Ollie Whistler.
Spotters noted that Armstrong was riding at his signature swift cadence of 100 pedal strokes per minute.
Once headed downhill, Armstrong started to open up his lead like the 7-Time Tour de France champion he is. By 48 miles , Armstrong had a 2:56 lead on Lieto, 5:43 on Bennett and 6:57 on Twelsiek. By the finish of the bike, Armstrong had cranked out a dominating 2:01:46 split, and had a 3:29 lead on Lieto, 6:50 on Bennett, and 7:29 on Twelsiek.
At this point, Lieto was fading back given his foot injury and lack of recent run training. Bennett knew he was on the outer edge of possibility for the win, and manfully started to cut back on Armstrong’s lead. After 3.7 miles, Bennett cut the lead to 5:27 with Twelsiek 8:38 back and Lieto 10:26 in arrears.
Armstrong then held serve, maintaining a margin on Bennett of 5:20 at 4.5 miles, and 4:58 at Mile 7. From Mile 7.5 to 8.5, Armstrong kept the same pace as Bennett and the race appeared to be over. Bennett then made a final surge and reduced the lead to 3:41 with two miles to go. But Armstrong never relinquished control and hit the line in 3:50:58 with a 2:46 margin of victory.
Hilary Biscay was two minutes behind the fastest men but topped the next best woman by 1:41 with a 25:21 clocking. In Biscay’s wake were Julia Grant., Bree Wee and Karen Thibodeau in 27:01, Linsey Corbin in 27:10, Melanie McQuaid in 27:16, Tatiana Vertiz in 27:20, Angela Axmann in 27:26, and Beth Walsh in 27:44. Rachel Ross (31:53) and Adrienne Hengels (32:28) brought up the last of the contenders of the top 10.
Corbin, who had spent the past two weeks on the Big Island training on the bike course, put her local knowledge to work with a race-best 2:25:02 bike split that was 3:35 better than Grant, 7:23 better than Beth Walsh, 4:08 better than last year’s champ Bree Wee, 3:45 better than McQuaid, and 12:37 better than Karen Thibodeau.
Starting the run, Corbin had a 3:26 advantage on Grant, 3:51 on Melanie McQuaid, 3:59 on Bree Wee and 7:57 on Beth Walsh. On her way to a 2nd-fastest 1:29:58 half marathon, Corbin held firm to her lead. Grant held 2nd with a 3rd-best 1:30:49 run, Wee held 4th (and topped her 2011 race-winning overall time by nearly 10 minutes) with a 5th-best 1:32:51 run while McQuaid fell to 5th with a 1:39:17 run.
"One reason that I love triathlon is that it is a dynamic sport and I have been continually tweaking how I have approached my training, nutrition, taper, etc... trying to figure out what works best for me. While I still have a lot more pieces to figure out - I feel things are coming together for me as I have learned a lot about myself in the past year," said Corbin to slowtwitch. "It was an extremely tough day out there for everyone, so to win, and set a course record, is a great indicator for me!"
Rohto Ironman 70.3 Honu
June 2, 2012
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Lance Armstrong (USA) 3:50:55
2. Greg Bennett (USA) 3:53:41
3. Chris Lieto (USA) 4:05:55
4. Maik Twelsiek (GER) 4:06:16
5. Guy Crawford (AUS) 4:06:59
6. Jose Jeuland (FRA) 4:12:24
7. James Bowstead (NZL) 4:13:45
8. Chris Hauth (USA) 4:16:54 * M40-44
9. Mark Bowstead (NZL) 4:18:05
10. Timothy Marr (USA) 4:18:58
1. Linsey Corbin (USA) 4:26:09
2. Julia Grant (NZL) 4:30:17
3. Beth Walsh (USA) 4:31:47
4. Bree Wee (USA) 4:32:45
5. Melanie McQuaid (CAN) 4:38:57
6. Karen Thibodeau (CAN) 4:44:12
7. Adrienne Hengels (USA) 4:50:29 * F30-34
8. Rachel Ross (USA) 4:51:08 * F35-39
9. Hilary Biscay (USA) 4:53:50
10. Angela Axmann (USA) 4:55:16