ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Lance Armstrong dominated the cycling but finished third Sunday in the St. Croix Ironman triathlon.
This was the latest effort by the 40-year-old Texan in his return to the sport he competed in as a teenager before turning to cycling. The seven-time Tour de France champion finished 3 minutes, 37 seconds behind winner Andy Potts of the U.S.
"I felt like maybe I waited a little long on the bike to make my move," Armstrong said. "There were probably 20 miles there where I could have gone a little harder."
He completed the 1.2-mile swim in 24:29. He surged in front on the 56-mile bike course, finishing in 2:22:39 and opening an almost two-minute gap over Potts. He faded in the closing 13.1-mile run in which his time of 1:18:38 was almost six minutes slower than that of Potts.
Armstrong made his professional Ironman debut in Panama in February, finishing second. He hopes to qualify for the Ironman world championship in October in Kona, Hawaii. Armstrong last competed in the St. Croix event in 1988 at age 16.
"To have a setting like this, it's one of the prettiest in the world and one of the most challenging," he said.
The presence of Armstrong in the race was not lost on other competitors.
"I know that Lance Armstrong brought a ton of people and a ton of attention to this race, and for good reason," Potts said. "I'm thrilled to put my name on the list of champs."
Potts won in 4:03:31, with France's Stephane Poulat second. The top woman was Canada's Angela Naeth, who won in a course-record 4:28:12 despite peddling the last six miles of the bike leg with a flat rear tire.
"If I would have stopped to fix it I would have lost a lot of time," Naeth said. "In that sense, it's better to just go."