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Armstrong 3rd in St. Croix Ironman triathlon

ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Lance Armstrong came third in the St. Croix Ironman triathlon on Sunday, dominating the bike leg but being overtaken during the final loop of the run.

The seven-time Tour de France winner finished 3:37 behind winner Andy Potts of the United States. Stephane Poulat of France took second.

Armstrong finished the opening 1.2-mile swim in 24:29, just behind Potts and Poulat. He surged into the lead on the 56-mile bike course, finishing in 2:22:39, and opened up an almost two-minute gap over Potts.

Armstrong faded in the 13.1-mile run, however. His run time of 1:18:38 was almost six minutes slower than Potts

“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.”

The St. Croix race was the 40-year-old Armstrong's latest effort to return to the sport he competed in as a teenager. He 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,” Armstrong said.

Potts, 35, finished in 4:03:31. But it was Armstrong who captured the spotlight in advance of the race, a fact not lost on the other professional triathletes in the field.

“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.”

The top women's finisher was Angela Naeth of Canada, who broke the course record with a time of 4:28:12, despite peddling the final several miles of the bike leg with a flat rear tire.

“There were six miles left, so 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.”

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