WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealander Bevan Docherty says he was snubbed by Lance Armstrong after winning the Panama half ironman on Sunday and knocking the seven-time Tour de France winner into second place in his first professional triathlon.
Docherty beat Armstrong by 31 seconds after overtaking the American on the running leg of event, which was raced in searing heat. An Olympic silver medalist, Dochery told New Zealand media that Armstrong brushed passed him at the finish line without offering congratulations, but later briefly shook his hand and acknowledged his victory.
Docherty said “I’m not sure what it was all about, I can only assume he was just disappointed to get beaten.
“I did shake his hand a little bit later. He’s on a completely different level and planet to us guys (triathletes),” Docherty said. “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.”
Docherty said he was surprised Armstrong didn’t dominate the race’s 55-mile cycling leg.
“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 led Docherty after the cycling, but the New Zealander made up ground on the 16½-mile running leg and passed Armstrong about 1½ miles from the finish.
“It’s great that I could hold one up for the other triathletes and show that it’s certainly not a sport that you can just walk into and dominate straight away,” he told the New Zealand Herald. “It’s quite an honor to see a seven-time Tour de France winner and someone you admire standing in second place below you on the podium. It’s a highlight of my career.”
Armstrong began his career as a triathlete before switching to cycling and winning seven successive Tours de France.
Federal authorities decided on Feb. 3 that Armstrong would not be charged after a two-year probe into accusations he and his cycling teammates systematically used performance-enhancing drugs.