After years of anticipation, the Collins Cup finally (finally!) happened, and its promises of novelty and star power were not exaggerated. The Professional Triathletes Organization’s flagship race in Samorin, Slovakia put pro triathletes from short- and long-course racing against each other in a head-to-head-to-head format, all with the purpose of answering the question: Who rules triathlon?
But answering that question didn’t prove so easy. Though Team Europe ultimately accumulated the most points, the breakout star of the day was arguably Taylor Knibb of Team U.S., who beat Daniela Ryf by over 16 minutes and posted the fastest women’s time of the day—or perhaps it was Lionel Sanders of Team Internationals, who bounced back from a bike crash to beat Germany’s Sebastian Kienle. As it turns out, when you have this much star power with this much excitement in a race, it’s hard to pick just one winner. Scroll through for highlights from the inaugural Collins Cup.
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Over the course of the day, there were 12 head-to-head-to-head match-up races, with one triathlete from each of the teams (U.S., Europe, and Internationals) competing over a 100-kilometer course (2K swim, 80K bike, 18K run) in and around the x-bionic sphere.
After exiting the swim together, Europe’s Lucy Charles-Barclay eventually pulled away from the dogged resistance of Katie Zaferes of the U.S., who stayed in contention on the bike for 70K before the time-trial position took its toll on the Olympic medalist.
The athletes battled through slick roads, lightening delays, and rain, with a number of crashes on the day.
Taylor Knibb claimed the first victory, beating four-time Ironman World Champion Daniela Ryf and earning the maximum amount of points for the U.S. team. The race format used a “points” system, where the winner of each match scored three points for their team, the runner-up two points, and last place one point. Bonus points were also scored for the margin of victory; Knibb, who finished a colossal 16 minutes over Ryf, was only one of two athletes to claim the maximum three bonus points in the race.
Defending Ironman world champion Anne Haug faced off against Jackie Hering (U.S.) and Jeanni Metzler (Internationals)—where Hering’s fast run surprised the other two women. Each matchup was determined by the team captains, and developed with strategy in mind. Of the decision to pit Haug, Hering, and Metzler against each other, U.S. team captain Karen Smyers said, “We wanted to match the fast runners because we thought there’s nothing worse than getting rundown from behind. Having someone who might match Haug’s leg speed is a good call.” It paid off when Hering took the second surprise win of the morning.
The Professional Triathletes Organization invested millions into delivering a livestream broadcast experience for viewers that included a moto camera for each athlete, drone coverage, and commentary from Tour de France legend Phil Liggett. (Didn’t catch the race? You can watch the replay here.)
Lucy Charles-Barclay celebrates as she claimed another win for Team Europe. During and after the race, commentators and social media began to buzz with excitement over a showdown between Knibb and Charles-Barclay at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in September.
It was Charles-Barclay and Emma Pallant-Browne who finally notched Team Europe’s first victories. With points awarded for extra time (and no one wanting to let down their team), many dug deep all the way to the finish line.
Ben Kanute (U.S.) dodged puddles as he makes his way through the run course at the Collins Cup. Wet and wild weather took out multiple athletes in crashes, including Holly Lawrence (Europe) and Lionel Sanders (Internationals).
Each head-to-head battled it out, with ten minute gaps between send-offs. After a delay for lightening, the men hit the roads an hour after the women.
After his bike crash, Sanders fought back for the win (and the fastest bike split of the day). His victory—just a week after finishing second in Ironman Copenhagen—was a feat his defeated opponent Sebastian Kienle described as “f**king incredible. To do these two performances back-to-back is one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen—because I’ve seen my power numbers already.”
Three-time Ironman World Champion Jan Frodeno entered the race as the favorite, and delivered. His finishing time of 3:13:08 was the fastest of the day, and opened enough of a gap over Sam Appleton (Internationals) and Sam Long (U.S.) to earn two bonus points for Team Europe.
Jackson Laundry (Internationals) grimaces as he crosses the finish line in first place, besting Joe Skipper (Internationals) and Justin Metzler (U.S.). As the final match-up of the day, Laundry’s win clinched a full shutout for the American men.
Team Europe, who accumulated the highest score of the day with 42.5 points, celebrated with a champagne shower as they hoist the inaugural Collins Cup trophy, designed and made by jeweler Tiffany & Co. The U.S. team placed second with 31.5 points, and Team Internationals, 25.5 points.