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Powerhouse Racing on Full Display at Collins Cup

From Daniela Ryf's dominating performance to the no-holds-barred duel of Lionel Sanders and Sam Long, there was no shortage of thrills at the 2022 Collins Cup.

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On a windy day in Slovakia, the world’s top short- and long-course triathletes brought the thunder to the Collins Cup, the flagship event of the Professional Triathletes Organization (PTO). Three teams, representing the USA, Europe, and Internationals, sent their top athletes to race in a head-to-head-to-head format in 12 matchups over a 2K swim, 80K bike, 18K run in the 100K PTO distance for global bragging rights and their share of a $1.5 million prize purse. In the end, it was Team Europe who prevailed for a second year in a row, powered by dominant performances from Daniela Ryf, Nicola Spirig, Kristian Blummenfelt, Magnus Ditlev, Gustav Iden, and Daniel Baekkegard.

Instead of a straightforward gold-silver-bronze format for winners, the Collins Cup uses a point system, wherein the winner of each match scores three points for their team, the runner-up gets two points, and last place earns just one point. But to encourage an all-out effort from start to finish, bonus points are awarded for the margin of victory: a maximum 1.5 points for a six-minute or greater gap over the third-placed triathlete, 1 point for four minutes, and 0.5 points for two minutes.


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2022 Collins Cup Results + Recap

Match 1: Sarah True (USA), Daniela Ryf (EUR), Flora Duffy (INT)

(Photo: Darren Wheeler/Professional Triathletes Organization)

In this highly-anticipated matchup against Olympian Sarah True, reigning Ironman World Champion Ryf and the reigning Olympic champion Duffy – who have not been seen together on a start line since the 2012 Olympic Games – set the tone for the Collins Cup with a thrilling race. Duffy made a statement in the swim, shaking off the draft of True and Ryf early in the swim to exit the water with a 25-second lead. But that lead didn’t last long, as Ryf bridged the gap less than 20K into the bike leg to make the pass into first place. Though Duffy gamely tried to hold on, Ryf cruised to a 1:51:49 bike split and a lead of more than 4 minutes on Duffy and 6 minutes on True out of T2. Ryf’s dominance continued all the way to the finish line, breaking the tape in 3:28:50 to deliver the first win of the day for Team Europe.

Finishing Time and Points:

Ryf: 3:28:50 (6)
Duffy: 3:35:48 (3)
True: 3:40:20 (1)

Team Totals:

EUR: 6
INT: 3
USA: 1

Match 2: Chelsea Sodaro (USA), Laura Philipp (EUR), Ashleigh Gentle (INT)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

Sodaro, who achieved her goal of qualifying for the Collins Cup five months after giving birth, had the advantage of familiarity with the 100K distance and matchup format against Collins Cup rookies Philipp and Gentle, but it wasn’t enough. Gentle pulled ahead early in the race, dropping a 26-minute swim split while Sodaro and Philipp exited the water together over a minute behind. On the bike, Philipp played the long game, patiently and consistently cutting into Gentle’s lead until just over the halfway point, where she took the lead and entered T2 with a 30-second advantage. But Gentle was undeterred by the power play, returning the favor by staying just within striking distance on the run, until she sensed Philipp losing power at the 6K mark. It was there that Gentle made the pass into first, where she powered to a 3:50:52 finish and the first win for Team International.

Finishing Time and Points:

Gentle: 3:30:52 (5)
Philipp: 3:33:24 (3.5)
Sodaro: 3:46:23 (1)

Team Totals:

EUR: 9.5
INT: 8
USA: 2

Match 3: Skye Moench (USA), Kat Matthews (EUR), Paula Findlay (INT)

(Photo: Darren Wheeler/Professional Triathletes Organization)

Findlay was the first to exit the water with a lead of 20 seconds over Matthews and 50 seconds on Moench. That advantage proved critical in the race, as Findlay was able to hold off her fellow superbikers and even pad her lead at T2 to 4 and 5 minutes over Moench and Matthews, respectively. That dominance continued all the way to the finish, where Findlay win her matchup with a time of 3:31:40, more than six minutes over Matthews and seven over Moench.

Finishing Time and Points:

Findlay: 3:31:40 (6)
Matthews: 3;37:57 (2)
Moench: 3:38:41 (1)

Team Totals:

INT: 14
EUR: 11.5
USA: 3

Match 4: Sophie Watts (USA), Nicola Spirig (EUR), Vittoria Lopes (INT)

(Photo: Darren Wheeler/Professional Triathletes Organization)

Five-time Olympian Nicola Spirig set out to make a statement in her final season as a professional triathlete, and she accomplished her mission with a dominating 3:32:44 win at her first and only Collins Cup. Vittoria Lopes had a strong showing in the swim, building a substantial lead out of the water while Watts lost a few seconds in transition to retrieve a dropped swim cap and avoid a littering penalty. Meanwhile, Spirig stormed past Lopes early in the bike leg, pushing a stellar 1:54:19 bike split. Sprig then made easy work of the run course, handily taking the victory with more 16 minutes than over Lopes. The bad luck continued for Watts, who dropped from the race during the run.

Finishing Time and Points:

Spirig: 3:23:57 (6)
Lopes: 3:49:17 (3.5)
Watts: DNF

Team Totals:

INT: 17.5
EUR: 14
USA: 4

Match 5: Jocelyn McCauley (USA), Holly Lawrence (EUR), Ellie Salthouse (INT)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

Salthouse and Lawrence battled shoulder-to-shoulder out front in the first leg of the race, while McCauley lagged almost a full minute behind. Salthouse and Lawrence continued race together for much of the bike leg, each responding to the other’s surges on the bike with equal intensity and staying within the closest parameters the no-draft zone would allow. While that played out, McCauley eased her way ever closer, biding her time until the halfway point, where she pushed her way into the front. Though Lawrence was able to respond to McCauley’s move and resume the game of musical chairs on the bike, Salthouse struggled and fell back in the latter half of the bike leg, falling to a 4:47 deficit behind her competition in T2. A fast transition from Lawrence gave her a 30 second advantage over McCauley at the start of the run, which she stretched into a lead of over four minutes on her way to a finishing time of 3:33:10.

Finishing Time and Points:

Lawrence: 3:33:10 (5.5)
McCauley: 3:37:45 (3.5)
Salthouse: 3:46:28 (1)

Team Totals:

INT: 23
EUR: 17.5
USA: 7.5

Match 6: Jackie Hering (USA), Anne Haug (EUR), Tamara Jewett (INT)

(Photo: Darren Wheeler/Professional Triathletes Organization)

Haug and Hering faced off in a rematch of their 2021 Collins Cup race, with the addition of rookie Jewett. Haug and Jewett crowded Hering from the start, funneling her to the bank of the swim course early in the race and limiting her ability to pull away early in the race. The strategy paid off, as the three swam in a pack and exited the swim together. The three continued to move as one unit through the bike leg, entering T2 together and heading out on the run within 15 seconds of each other. It was Haug who broke free of the trio first, unleashing a 1:02:32 run split to take the win. However, her point collection for Team Europe was limited by the equally-impressive Tamara Jewett, who held her own to finish within two minutes of Haug, blocking Team Europe from earning bonus points.

Finishing Time and Points:

Haug: 3:33:57 (4)
Jewett: 3:35:42 (2.5)
Hering: 3:39:21 (1)

Team Totals:

EUR: 27
INT: 21
USA: 8.5

Match 7: Ben Kanute (USA), Kristian Blummenfelt (EUR), Hayden Wilde (INT)

(Photo: Darren Wheeler/Professional Triathletes Organization)

After exiting the water in a pack of three, Wilde and Kanute each tried to make a statement by taking on the front position early in the bike leg. Meanwhile, Blummenfelt held back and watched events unfold until the halfway point, when he decided to surge to the front. The rest of the race was a formality for the Olympic and Ironman World Champion from that point on, as he clocked an overall time of 3:09:19 – more than eight minutes over second-place Wilde and 11 minutes over Kanute.

Finishing Time and Points:

Blummenfelt: 3:09:19 (6)
Wilde: 3:17:55 (2.5)
Kanute: 3:21:17 (1)

Team Totals:

EUR: 33
INT: 23.5
USA: 9.5

Match 8: Sam Long (USA), Sam Laidlow (EUR), Lionel Sanders (INT)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

Laidlow, a Captain’s Pick for Team Europe, pulled ahead of sparring partners Long and Sanders early in the swim, exiting the water with a day-best 23:47 swim split and a lead of over three minutes. Long and Sanders, who turned in identical swim times, worked together to make up the deficit on the bike leg. 10 kilometers before T2, they made the pass on Laidlow. The battle of Long and Sanders continued onto the run, as the two ran shoulder-to-shoulder at full throttle, each daring the other to make a move. In the final stretch, the two began to sprint, with Sanders edging out Long in the finisher chute to take the win by only two seconds.

Finishing Time and Points:

Sanders: 3:12:25 (4.5)
Long: 3:12:27 (3.5)
Laidlow: 3:41:36 (1)

Team Totals:

EUR: 34
INT: 28
USA: 13

Match 9: Rudy von Berg (USA), Magnus Ditlev (EUR), Max Neumann (INT)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

In this battle of the young guns of triathlon, the trio of Neumann, Ditlev, and Von Berg exited the water together. The early miles of the bike leg seemed to indicate more of the same neck-and-neck racing, but Ditlev had other plans. Little by little, the Dane pulled away from his competition, entering T2 with a 1:44 bike split and a lead of more than 4 minutes. His final time of 3:13:31 was the final exam in Ditlev’s master class in racing, where he earned the maximum points for Team Europe.

Finishing Time and Points:

Ditlev: 3:13:31 (6)
Von Berg: 3:20:51 (3)
Neumann: 3:24:52 (1)

Team Totals:

EUR: 40
INT: 29
USA: 16

Match 10: Jason West (USA), Patrick Lange (EUR), Aaron Royle (INT)

(Photo: Darren Wheeler/Professional Triathletes Organization)

Royle was dominant from start to finish in his Collins Cup debut. His short-course speed was on full display in the swim as he dropped a 24:39 split, exiting the water more than two minutes ahead of West and Lange. His lead grew to over 4 minutes on the bike and 5 minutes on the run, ultimately breaking the tape in 3:19:42.

Finishing Time and Points:

Royle: 3:19:42 (5.5)
West: 3:34:34 (2)
Lange: 3:26:07 (1)

Team Totals:

EUR: 41
INT: 34.5
USA: 18

Match 11: Matt Hanson (USA), Gustav Iden (EUR), Jackson Laundry (INT)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

Iden and Hanson exited the water together, with Laundry 87 seconds down. But Iden made quick work of the bike course, pulling into the lead in the early miles and never letting go. After clocking a speedy 59:30 run split, the two-time 70.3 world champion crossed the line in 3:11:32 to take a dominating win and the maximum points for Team Europe.

Finishing Time and Points:

Iden: 3:11:32 (6)
Hanson: 3:19:19 (3.5)
Laundry:  3:32: 49 (1)

Team Totals:

EUR: 47
INT: 35.5
USA: 21.5

Match 12: Chris Lieferman (USA), Daniel Baekkegard (EUR), Braden Currie (INT)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

It was a line-to-line win for Baekkegard, who put in a lead of 42 second over Currie and more than 3 minutes on Lieferman on the swim, grew that lead to more than 5 minutes on the bike, and more than seven minutes on the run. His finishing time of 3:13:52 earned the maximum points for Team Europe, adding to an already-impressive point count for the team Collins Cup win.

Finishing Time and Points:

Baekkegard: 3:13:52 (6)
Currie: 3:21:41 (2.5)
Lieferman: 3:24:42 (1)

Team Totals:

EUR: 53
INT: 38
USA: 22.5

Final Collins Cup Point Totals

EUR INT USA
53 38 22.5
(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)