Lance Armstrong finished second in his first professional triathlon over the weekend, but not without a little controversy over a perceived slight.
Bevan Docherty, the New Zealander who won the Ironman 70.3 Panama event in 3 hours, 50 minutes and 13 seconds, said Armstrong snubbed him Sunday after Docherty beat him by 31 seconds on the 13.1-mile running segment on a sweltering Panama City day. Docherty said that Armstrong brushed past him at the finish line, offered no congratulations and later only briefly shook his hand. Armstrong finished in 3:50.55.
”I’m not sure what it was all about, I can only assume he was just disappointed to get beaten,” Docherty said (via the New Zealand Herald). “I did shake his hand a little bit later. He’s on a completely different level and planet to us guys [triathletes]. It’s great to have him in the sport, he certainly adds something. It’s an eye opener to see how he gets mobbed and the chaos around him.”
The competition was the first for Armstrong since the federal investigation into doping allegations against him was closed Feb. 3. He led Docherty, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2008 bronze medalist in the triathlon, after the 56-mile cycling segment, but his performance on the bike was not daunting. The race also consisted of a 1.2-mile swim.
“I thought Lance would absolutely cream us on the bike, but he was probably in a similar position to me where he wasn’t too sure how to pace himself,” he said. “He certainly looked like he was holding back and that was probably why he ran so well off the bike.”
Armstrong’s athletic career initially began with triathlons. After battling cancer and concentrating on cycling, he won the Tour de France seven times. He did tweet congratulations after the competition: “Uh.... that was painful! Can’t complain tho. Very happy with my race and 2 be back in the tri game. Congrats to @bevanjdocherty on the win.”