The slugfest in Slovakia, the smackdown in Samorin, Sanders v. Long: Part III—or, more simply put, the Ryder Cup of triathlon. However you want to define the Professional Triathletes Organization (PTO) inaugural flagship event, The Collins Cup, two things are for certain: it’s novel in its match-play concept and it’s a must watch for triathlon fans.
It’s also finally (finally!) here, and this weekend 36 of the world’s finest triathletes will be competing head-to-head to answer in the PTO’s own words: Who rules triathlon?
How can you watch this first-ever Collins Cup? The answer is simple: Right here. Scroll down for the PTO broadcast, which will air live starting at 6:30 a.m. ET Saturday and stream for the full seven hours of the event. (Before then, it’ll air the opening ceremony and draft picks.)
But first: A little background on the Collins Cup. Want the short version? Here: What is the Collins Cup.
Where did the Collins Cup come from, anyway
While he doesn’t like to admit it, the Collins Cup is the brainchild of PTO chairman Charles Adamo, a latecomer to the triathlon world who wanted to see elite long-course racers rewarded for their efforts. More importantly, Adamo helped secure the investment from billionaire venture capitalist Mike Moritz to make this happen.
The Collins Cup concept is built on rivalries, the idea that Europe, the U.S., and rest of the world (ie. the Internationals) can foster regional pride and get one over on the opposition—and that triathletes will want to watch. The challenge is it has none of the Ryder Cup’s near-century of tradition behind it, and it’s taken a while to get off the ground. First conceived of five years ago and originally penciled in for Roth, Germany, the Collins Cup has finally found a home at the x-bionic sphere in Samorin, a purpose-built sporting mecca in Slovakia.
Boosted now by a multi-million-dollar long-term investment from Moritz’s Crankstart Investments, the PTO have pulled out the stops and are promising a big budget spectacular global broadcast, the likes of which triathlon has never seen.
The Collins Cup format
Each team—the U.S., Europe, and the Internationals—is made up of six women and six men. There are then 12 head-to-head-to-head match-up races, with one triathlete from each of the teams competing over a 100-kilometer course (2K swim, 80K bike, 18K run) in and around the x-bionic sphere. Yes, that is the slightly-shorter-than-a-half 100K distance the pros raced at Challenge Daytona; the PTO is trying to make it a thing.
The winner of each match scores three points for their team, the runner-up gets two points, and last place earns just one point. Bonus points can also be scored 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.
The points are tallied up and the winning team captains will lift the inaugural Collins Cup, designed and made by jeweler Tiffany & Co. The losers are presented with the less auspicious Broken Spoke trophy for last place.
Who to watch
Thirty-six of the world’s best triathletes will be on show, with the teams selected via rankings and then “captain’s picks.” The big names include reigning Ironman champions Jan Frodeno and Anne Haug, representing Europe along with four-time Kona winner Daniela Ryf. For Team Internationals, it’s headlined by Canada’s characterful Lionel Sanders. And on the U.S. the firepower comes from young Ironman winner Sam Long and Olympic medalists Katie Zafares and Taylor Knibb. With a few last-minute substitutions this past week, here are the final teams to watch at the Collins Cup:
|Skye Moench||Sam Long|
|Chelsea Sodaro||Colin Chartier|
|Jackie Hering||Matt Hanson|
|Jocelyn McCauley||Ben Kanute|
|Taylor Knibb||Justin Metzler|
|Katie Zaferes||Andrew Starykowicz|
|Teresa Adam||Lionel Sanders|
|Paula Findlay||Braden Currie|
|Jeanni Metzler||Sam Appleton|
|Sarah Crowley||Max Neumann|
|Ellie Salthouse||Kyle Smith|
|Carrie Lester||Jackson Laundry|
|Daniela Ryf||Jan Frodeno|
|Anne Haug||Gustav Iden|
|Lucy Charles-Barclay||Patrick Lange|
|Holly Lawrence||Joe Skipper|
|Kat Matthews||Daniel Bækkegård|
|Emma Pallant-Browne||Sebi Kienle|
The triathlon glitterati doesn’t end with those competing, however. Each region has two legends of the sport serving as captains. Six-time Ironman world champion Mark Allen and 1995 World Triathlon world champion Karen Smyers are at the helm for the USA.
The competition really come down to who goes up against who: Can anyone beat Frodeno? Do you sacrifice an athlete against him and save your best for where you can earn points, or do you pit the best against the best? Is there any way at all to beat Team Europe’s female lineup?
This is where the captains come into play. Rather than being a random draw to decide the match-ups, each captain took a turn during the opening ceremonies on Wednesday to name their athlete pick for each match—ie. Europe names a person, then the Internationals decide who to put up against them, then the U.S.; and it reverses for the next draw. For those familiar, it’s a little like the snake draft concept in fantasy football.
To see the full final match-ups: Knibb v. Ryf? Long v. Frodeno? Collins Cup Match-Ups Revealed
The $1.5 million “prize purse”
OK, so there isn’t actually prize money, per se, for the Collins Cup, but there is $1.5 million in appearance fees just for being selected for the and making the trip—making it triathlon’s biggest purse to date. The triathletes on the start line are paid according to their PTO world ranking, meaning the current #1 (Frodeno and Ryf) will make $90,000 each, all the way down to $20,000 for the last ranked.
Speaking of fantasy football, there’s a Collins Cup fantasy game too, with prizes, including an all-expenses paid trip to the 2022 Collins Cup. And yes, the editors here have made their picks.
As part of the effort to make this a more exciting triathlon broadcast, the race has said they will air a secondary dashboard on screen with live data like heart rate, speed, real time points predictions, and graphs showing who is gaining and losing time. Viewers will also be able to hear the communication of the captains to their mic’d up athletes throughout the race as they urge them to even greater efforts—presumably for the glory, not the money.
I’m convinced, how do I watch the Collins Cup?
Tune in right here! When the broadcast starts—about 30 minutes before the first athletes go off—the feed will be live and on demand on OutsideTV and on the OutsideTV app, and will be simulcast live here on Triathlete.
On Saturday, Aug. 28, three women will start at 1 p.m. local time in Slovakia (7 a.m. ET in the U.S.) and each match-up will set off at 10-minute intervals. The men will start two hours later (3 p.m. local time // 9 a.m. ET). The whole event should take around seven hours.
If you’re not in the U.S., the PTO has partnered with channels all over the world to broadcast the event live and to air an edited highlights show after, as well as run the documentary, Beyond Human. You can check who is showing the event and what parts of it they’re airing in your region on the Collins Cup website.