Apr 1, 2012 article & images by Nick Salazar

The Moody Gardens pyramids shone ominously in the morning light before the race began.
The Moody Gardens pyramids shone ominously in the morning light before the race began.

The Lonestar 70.3 has been very hotly-anticipated ever since Lance Armstrong announced the race would be on his 2012 racing schedule. The Tour de France Champion was the talk of the tri world coming into the race, and like it or not, the usual players had to factor him into their race-day plans. The Texan wound up controlling most of the bike course, eventually breaking away in the lead, but fading on the run and falling to 7th place. American Tim O'Donnell took the win with loads of penache, fighting every step of the run. Here's all the fantastic gear these athletes used during the race. Thanks for reading!

  • The Moody Gardens pyramids shone ominously in the morning light before the race began.
  • The Colonel lit up the dark sky before daybreak. The athletes started at 7am, but sunrise wasn't until 7:04.
  • Eventual winner Tim O'Donnell checked in his bike incognito after a quick warmup, but wore a head lamp to stay visible.
  • Raelert coming in from his pre-race warmup ride.
  • A big pack of cyclists formed and stayed together for most of the race. It was largely controlled by Lance Armstrong, who either pulled when he wanted, or hung out in the back waiting for others to do the work.
  • Tim O'Donnell put together an excellent race, and really earned the victory in his dogfight run against Kienle.
  • Husband and wife team Brandon and Amy Marsh prove you don't have to spend tens of thousands to have pro-quality gear. Brandon rides a P3 and his wife is currently on a P4.  But I wouldn't be shocked to see them both on a P5 some time in the near future.
  • TJ Tollakson riding his radical position. I think that Zipp frame would look great with an Omega brake up front, don't you?
  • The man who drew the most pre-race attention was, of course, Lance Armstrong.  The Texan rode a bike basically identical to his Panama rig, a size Large Trek Speed Concept with SRAM Red components and Zipp R2C shifters.  However, he was wearing a different skin suit from before, adorned with a checkerboard pattern.
  • T.O. riding hard.
  • Brian Rhodes was a factor early in the race, but faded on the run, and didn't crack the top 10.
  • Where Lance goes, cameras follow!
  • Marino Vanhoenacker rode his usual Scott Plasma 3, as well as the new Split helmet. As usual, he's on an 808 Firecrest front and Super-9 disc rear (both tubular).
  • Michael Raelert looked awesome aboard his BMC TM01, but see that rear wheel?  That's no Easton - it's a super-expensive Carbonsports Lightweight disc.
  • Here's a complete shot of Lance's rig.  He also rides the Lightweight disc, although his custom graphic covers the telltale carbon spoke pattern.
  • Closeup of Michael Raelert and his BMC TM01.
  • Tim O'Donnell is on Argon 18's new E-118. Personally I'm not a huge fan of the bike, especially since it forces you to use a nasty loop of exposed housing to set up the integrated front brake. But it worked out OK for Tim today!
  • Sebastian Kienle had the fastest ride of the day, and also looks to have the most aggressive position. Curiously, it looks like he's riding an 808 Firecrest front, and a HED Stinger disc in back.  Both unbadged. This guy needs a wheel sponsor!
  • Here's another angle of TJ Tollakson in his radical tuck.
  • Kelly Williamson put in an impressive performance, leading through much of the bike, then getting caught on the run by Amy Marsh and clawing her way back into the lead.
  • Amy Marsh on her Cervelo P4, fighting to take the lead from Williamson.  She eventually finished third.
  • Heather Wurtele looks great aboard her Blue Triad SL, and hung on for eighth place.
  • The scenery in Galveston was beautiful. Here's a random age grouper churning away on the fast, flat bike course.
  • Lance is riding a MUCH higher position from his Tour days. I estimate he's about 5cm higher here than he was back then. He's opened up his hip angle considerably, but conceded a bit of frontal area. Clearly it's working OK for him, as he roared into T2 ahead of everyone else, and is likely to continue to do so as the season rolls on.
  • Stephane Poulat looked to be in prime position to catch Lance, and did so early in the run, but the Frenchman eventually faded to fifth.
  • Poulat leading Armstrong in the first lap of the run.
  • Tim O'Donnell started the run with a real deficit to overcome, and did so relentlessly throughout the half marathon.
  • Armstrong running through the Galveston gardens.
  • T.O. runs in K-Swiss shoes like girlfriend and Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae. Both have impeccable running form.
  • Michael Raelert is also a gifted runner, and clawed his way up to fourth despite illness and a flat tire.
  • Although it's Texas, don't forget that it's also an island, and there are gulls everywhere. This guy was just hunting for scraps of food.
  • TJ Tollakson hung tough, but didn't crack the top 10 today.
  • T.O. closing in on Lance.
  • Armstrong running through his G.I. issues.
  • O'Donnell pushed very, very hard to take the win. Kudos, Timbo!
  • Raelert bridged from Rhodes to Ronnie Schildknecht, but couldn't outrun the latter.
  • Armstrong running through the pain.
  • Amy Marsh looked cool and composed throughout the race.
  • Kelly Williamson had to work hard to catch up to Marsh and take the win.
  • Williamson running for gold.
  • Vanhoenacker held on for a solid eighth place, 23 seconds behind Lance Armstrong.
  • Galveston is very green and relatively humid, but overall quite easy on the eyes.

Related Articles
Before we close the books on Galveston, here's one more feature on some of the unique setups we saw out there, including an update to TJ Tollakson's crazy front end.
The tiny island of Galveston, TX became the epicenter of the tri world when a very stacked field signed up to race the Lonestar 70.3. Here's our pre-race expo gallery.
We sat down for an exclusive chat with Tim O'Donnell about gear, racing, and got a good look at his Argon E-118 bike.
Every year, we find lovely odds and ends to share with you dear readers. The expo at Ironman Hawaii is full of fun. Enjoy!
Check out all the great gear and additional trends from the Ironman Boulder bike course.