Cycling Pros Racing Ironman

By Kevin Mackinnon

Last week’s announcement of the new partnership between the LiveStrong Foundation and Ironman, coupled with the fact that Lance Armstrong will be racing at a number of Ironman events this year as he tries to qualify for the Ironman World Championship has generated lots of excitement in the triathlon world. Armstrong is certainly the most well-known cyclist to take on a swim/ bike/ run event, but he’s hardly the first – there have been some impressive cycling stars who have some impressive Ironman results. Here’s a history of a few who have taken on the challenge:

Karin Thuerig 

The Swiss Olympian was a two-time Olympic bronze medalist in the individual time trial and a gold medalist in the same discipline at the world championships. She won Ironman titles in France, Switzerland and Lanzarote, and finished third at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship last year. She was a many-time podium finisher in Kona, including a pair of fifth place finishes at the big show.

John Howard:

In his heyday on the bike (not that he still isn’t!) Howard was the face of American cycling. He was a gold medalist at the 1971 Pan American Games and represented the United States at the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympics. In 1980 he made his Ironman debut in Kona and finished third. A year later he returned to take the title, proving that a cycling specialist truly could win the Ironman.

Steve Larsen

Like Lance Armstrong was at one point, Larsen was a member of the famous Motorola Cycling Team and turnd to triathlon whe he just missed making the US Mountain Bike Team. In 2001 he won Ironman Lake Placid, breaking former Ironman World Champion Thomas Hellriegel’s course record in the process. He would continue to compete over the Ironman distance for years. (Sadly, Larsen passed away few years ago – here’s a column that appeared on Ironman.com. )

Chann McRae

A childhood friend of Lance Armstrong, McRae raced for three different pro teams over in Europe, including US Postal (Armstrong’s team) in 2001 and 2002. He was the US Pro Cycling champion in 2002. McRae Finished as high as eighth at Ironman Canada one year during his short career as an Ironman athlete.

Kai Hundertmarck

The former Team Telekom member blazed into the triathlon world with an age group win in Kona in 2005, finishing as the first amateur (16th overall). He would continue to race as a pro for a few years after that impressive performance, racking up a number of top-five finishes at Ironman races around the world.

Laurent Jalabert

The many-time Tour de France stage winner never won his home country’s tour, but he did with the Tour of Spain in 1995. In his Kona debut in 2007 he passed over 1,000 riders on the bike, which he followed up with a 3:09 marathon – he finished in 9:19 and was 76th overall. In 2008 he finished 12th overall at Ironman France. Jalabert will be racing here in Panama this weekend. He won’t be going head to head with Armstrong, though – he’s racing in the 40-44 age group.

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About swimbikerun1
Devoted Father, Husband and Employee.Endurance sports fanatic (running,cycling,swimming).Triathlon athlete and coach.If only days had more than 24 hours.

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