A Cycling Legend is Coming to Tri—But Not to Compete

Cycling legend Fabian Cancellara partners with the newly reformed TriStar triathlon series to offer bike-centric, beginner-friendly distances.

Cycling legend Fabian Cancellara has taken to triathlon for his second career. But unlike other former members of the pro peloton that have made the move to tri (Andrew Talansky and Cam Wurf, most recently), Cancellara isn’t interested in competing—at least not professionally. The man who is perhaps the greatest time trialist of all-time thinks triathlon can be a lucrative business endeavor, and he’s going all-in.

The Swiss superstar known to many as “Spartacus” became a partner in the newly reformed TriStar International Triathlon Series last year, and he along with his two partners hope to slowly and methodically build TriStar into one of the biggest event producers in the triathlon world. If the TriStar name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it’s not something new, but it’s been on hiatus since 2012. The series was started by Ironman hall of famer Georg Hochegger in 2009, and its rise was almost as swift as its demise. At its peak, TriStar put on 25 events totaling 30,000 participants, with events in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America. After the main investor pulled out at the end of the 2012 season, the brand abruptly disappeared.

Now, thanks in large part to an investment by Cancellara, the series will return in 2018 with three events in the U.A.E., Switzerland, and Italy. The Switzerland event, held in Rorschach, debuted last year. Each race will have both TriStar 111 (1K swim, 100K bike, 10K run) and TriStar 55.5 (500m swim, 50K bike, 5K run) options, and all three events will host professional fields. The distance is recognized by the International Triathlon Union.

“The bike-centric approach of TriStar events fascinated me from the beginning,” Cancellara says. “It’s found a niche in triathlon between the Olympic-distance and long-distance races.”

Cancellara and his business partners think TriStar’s unique distance will make it even more beginner-friendly than Olympic-distance events, because the swim is most often the largest barrier to entry to the sport. “Swimming makes the big difference,” he says. “For me, the swimming part of the Olympic-distance is very intense. The TriStar format allows a broader range of people to enjoy the experience of a triathlon.”

Cancellara and his partners hope to expand the number of events each year, but they plan on being careful not to do so too quickly to avoid the mistakes of TriStar’s previous run. We can expect to see a couple of new races announced in Europe for 2019, with further international expansion in 2020 and beyond. Though he did compete in TriStar Switzerland last year, don’t expect to be seeing Cancellara in a tri-suit again anytime soon. “Currently I am planning to just attend TriStar events,” he says.

The TriStar schedule for the 2018 season is as follows:

  • TriStar Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) – March 23
  • TriStar Switzerland (Rorschach) – July 15
  • TriStar Toscana (Italy) – September (exact date TBD)

More information can be found at Tristartriathlon.com or by following @TriStarSeries on Twitter.