These Are the Collins Cup Matches We’re Most Excited to Watch

The matches for the upcoming Collins Cup are set—we’ve picked the five most interesting ones and analyzed how they could play out.

Photo: Getty Images

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Yesterday, as part of the opening ceremony of the 2022 Collins Cup the captains picked the matches for Saturday’s race exciting race in Samorin, Slovakia. With 36 of the best triathletes of the world being put into 12 matches of three athletes each, any of the matches could be interesting – to see them all, check out our Collins Cup watch page. But to focus down, we’ve analyzed five matches that we consider must watch. Some of these have the biggest names and are probably going to be the backbone of the broadcast. Others are likely going to have interesting race dynamics that require a bit of closer look. Let’s dive in!

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Must-Watch Matchup #1

PTO #1 vs. Short Course (Part 1): Daniela Ryf (Europe) vs. Flora Duffy (Internationals) vs. Sarah True (USA)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

The 2022 Collins Cup starts with a bang, bringing together Daniela Ryf, five-time 70.3 world champion and current top-ranked PTO athlete, against Flora Duffy, the Olympic gold medalist from the Tokyo Games and current short-course world champion.

And don’t forget about the U.S. entry, Sarah True: After her maternity break, Sarah has raced twice, winning at 70.3 Eagleman and at IM Lake Placid. Another fun data point: All three raced in the London Olympics back in 2012—Sarah just missed a medal in fourth place, while Daniela was 40th and Flora 45th. Of course Daniela and Flora were still to find their strengths, but Sarah has also had great results on the longer distances, among which include two more fourth places at 70.3 Worlds 2017 and Kona 2018.

With Flora having finished only one 70.3 race (back in early 2020), she’s the hardest one to predict for the 100k distance of the Collins Cup and the match will be a really interesting one to follow from the start. In all likelihood, Flora should be leading the swim, and Sarah has consistently swum faster than Daniela. But will they swim together, trying to isolate Daniela and build a solid gap? What’s going to happen once they’re on the bike? It usually takes Daniela a bit to find her cycling legs, but when she’s on form no one is able to match her on the bike. If the gap in T1 is between one and two minutes, I expect Daniela to ride up to them somewhere before the halfway mark. Has Sarah been able to match Flora on the bike, will Flora try to ride with Daniela once she rides by?

The next intriguing question: How much of a gap will Daniela need in T2 to Flora who has been winning her races with speedy runs? I’m sure she will have a number in mind and will work hard for it in the second half of the bike. The limited data for Flora on longer runs make it hard to come up with a solid number – but it’s not hard to see Flora run three minutes quicker than Daniela on the 18k run course. And where will Sarah end up against these two superstars? So many questions, but we will get the answers on Saturday!

Predicted Finish:

  1. Flora Duffy
  2. Daniel Ryf
  3. Sarah True

RELATED: The Triathlete Hour Podcast: Sarah True & Flora Duffy

Must-Watch Matchup #2

Edmonton Rematch: Ashleigh Gentle (Internationals) vs. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) vs. Laura Philipp (Europe)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

Just ten minutes after the first match gets underway, there’s going to be another big one: With Ashleigh Gentle, Chelsea Sodaro, and Laura Philipp, we’ll have three of the top-four finishers from the recent PTO Canadian Open. All three will be eyeing the winning points in this match.

The swim is clearly going to be Ashleigh’s territory, possibly building a gap of two minutes into T1. The gap was more than three minutes in Edmonton, but both Laura and Chelsea were not happy with their swims in the much more crowded Edmonton field. Chelsea is probably the better swimmer than Laura, but Laura’s swim is much improved this year, and she will try to find Chelsea’s feet and then stay with her as she did at Ironman Hamburg.

Once on the bike, Laura is likely to push the pace – now it’s Chelsea’s turn to try to hang on or at least limit the time she has to give up. How well is Ashleigh going to ride alone at the front of the race? Can she hold on to her lead into T2 or is Laura going to take control of the race? Based on previous results, Laura should be slightly ahead in T2 with Ashleigh and Chelsea within two minutes.

Then the real fun is going to start with these three awesome runners! Laura didn’t have a good run in Edmonton, while Ashleigh posted the best run split. Probably this race is going to come down to who is going to have the best form on Saturday, and it’s going to take a while before we’ll have an indication of who will take the points in this match. There was only one matchup last year without any bonus points as everyone finished within two minutes – this match could be even closer.

Predicted Finish:

  1. Laura Philipp
  2. Chelsea Sodaro
  3. Ashleigh Gentle

RELATED: How Laura Philipp Set A New Ironman Record

Must-Watch Matchup #3

Runners’ (Re-)Match: Jackie Hering (USA) vs. Anne Haug (Europe) vs. Tamara Jewett (Internationals)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

Jackie Hering was one of the on-form athletes in last year’s Collins Cup: She won her match against Anne Haug and Jeanni Metzler and posted the fastest female run split. Now we’re going to have a rematch between Jackie and Anne—while Tamara Jewett, another super-fast runner, represents the Internationals.

It’s probably going to be a tough match for Tamara – with just three athletes in the race, she could be isolated soon after the swim start and then not see another athlete until the finish line. This will also make it tough for her on the run –she probably gains some confidence from overtaking other athletes, but in the Collins Cup she has to rely on working within herself and maybe the occasional update from her captains on her way to another fastest run split of the day.

The script for Jackie will be completely different from her usual races: Against Anne and Tamara she can’t rely on her run legs but needs to build a cushion in the swim and bike. On paper, she is the best swimmer and biker in this match, and I can see her leading into T2 with a two-minute gap to Anne. It’s hard to tell if that’s going to be enough, as Anne is superb at pushing herself to the limit regardless of how she feels on race day. But when Jackie has brought her A-game—like she did last year—it could be another match that is only going to be decided in the second half of the run.

Predicted Finish:

  1. Anne Haug
  2. Jackie Hering
  3. Tamara Jewett

RELATED: Anne Haug on Ironman Experience, Fast Running, and Kona Victory

Must-Watch Matchup #4

PTO #1 vs. Short Course (Part 2): Kristian Blummenfelt (Europe) vs. Hayden Wilde (Internationals) vs. Ben Kanute (USA)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

Just like the first female match, this one brings together the reigning Ironman world champion with the current top short-course athlete. Kristian Blummenfelt is of course the favorite in any race he tackles these days, but with Hayden Wilde stepping up in the distance, this match isn’t a slam-dunk for the Europeans.

Again, it is easy to overlook the American in this race. Ben Kanute might not have had the big results he was looking for recently, but he is a tough competitor who will try to come up with a plan to upset the big favorites. It is likely that Ben is going to be the one leading into T1 – will he have company or has he been able to swim away from Kristian and Hayden, both of which are not among the top triathlon swimmers?

The next interesting question will be if Hayden is going to be able to swim with Kristian and what will happen once they’re on the bike. Hayden has said he has ridden his TT bike a few times before, but it’s always different to do that in a race against the best of the world—especially at a longer distance. If there’s a gap between Hayden and Kristian after the swim, will Hayden be able to close it once on the bike – or is Kristian riding away from him? How long will it take Kristian to ride up to Ben, and will Ben try to hang on to Kristian, maybe extending his lead over Hayden, at least for a while?

The run is also hard to predict. Ben has not been running at his best recently, and he is facing two of the best runners in the sport. Can he fight for position or will he have to focus on minimizing the extra points (for each two-minute gap) to the others? At the front of the race, look for how well Hayden’s run form transfers from the sprint- and Olympic-distance to the 18k run distance of the Collins Cup. It would be a surprise to see him beat Kristian, but you never know.

Predicted Finish:

  1. Kristian Blummenfelt
  2. Hayden Wilde
  3. Ben Kanute

RELATED: What Does It Mean to “Train Like A Norwegian?”

Must-Watch Matchup #5

Chasing Sam: Sam Laidlow (Europe) vs. Lionel Sanders (Internationals) vs. Sam Long (USA)

(Photo: Professional Triathletes Organization)

While a lot of matches have subtle shifts between the athletes, this is likely going to be one that “breathes” – with an expanding gap on the swim, then everyone potentially finishing within seconds of each other.

Sam Laidlow has been swimming and biking extremely well in his last two races at Ironman world championships in St. George and at the PTO Canadian Open. In both races he was in the lead group into T2, then lost a few positions on the run.

This will be even more pronounced in his Collins Cup match against Lionel Sanders and Sam Long, two athletes with a weaker swim who then always have to play catch up on the bike and run. Will these two form a temporary alliance on the bike to close the gap? For that, they need to be close together after the swim because it’s unlikely that one is going to “wait” for the other.

Lionel had the fastest bike split in Edmonton but was only able to make up one minute to Sam Laidlow. With Sam Long also in the race, my best guess is that the T1 gap (maybe 3 minutes?) is going to shrink, but that Sam Laidlow is still going to have a lead going into the run. In Edmonton, Lionel was just over two minutes quicker on the run, and it looks as if he’ll have a chance to run down Sam here in Samorin.

Where is Sam Long going to be in this match? Sam has been running well in his win at 70.3 Gdynia, so if he’s able to ride up to Lionel, he can definitely also play a role in this match. It would be awesome to see Lionel and Sam Long run together, slowly closing the gap to Sap Laidlow, making this match being “too close to call” even after 10k on the run.

Predicted Finish:

  1. Lionel Sanders
  2. Sam Long
  3. Sam Laidlow

RELATED: Updated: 2022 Collins Cup Teams

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