The Collins Cup, featuring 12 triathletes from each of Europe, USA and the Rest of the World, is a head-to-head-to-head format based on golf’s successful Ryder Cup and offers the largest collective prize purse in the sport’s history.
The race in Samorin is the brainchild and first event of the revamped Professional Triathletes Organisation that has benefited from a multi-million dollar investment led by billionaire Michael Moritz, the British-born venture capitalist who made his fortune in Silicon Valley. It will take place over a middle-distance course of a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run, with each team – comprising six men and six women – competing in 12 ‘matchplay’ contests where groups of three triathletes set off at 10min intervals. Points will be awarded for finishing places and time gaps in the individual battles, with the region accruing the most points deemed the winners.
The leading four men and women for each team are selected from the existing PTO rankings on May 4, with the remaining slots given to ‘wildcard’ captains picks. The best non-drafting triathletes in the sport, including Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf, are expected to be involved with the promised $2million remuneration being paid in appearance fees, not prize money.
Indeed, it would be a major surprise if any of the top-rated Ironman triathletes were absent, because a condition of Moritz’s investment, through his dedicated Crankstart Investments, was that the top ranked professionals all had to sign up for PTO membership. To date, over 100 have signed up, including all the top 35 men and women. The only exceptions for a starting berth could be the likes of Alistair Brownlee and Spain’s Javier Gomez, who have announced Olympic ambition, and the Collins Cup clashes with the height of the ITU season.
The competition’s broadcast will be funded by the PTO, as it hopes to stimulate more interest for long-course racing beyond hardcore fans, but it's yet to announce where it will be streamed. It's scheduled to take place the day before the Challenge Championship (May 31), an individual pro and age-group competition that has been running at the venue for the past three years, with the women’s race won by Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay on each occasion. While the PTO rankings were not publicly available at time of writing, it’s expected Charles-Barclay would be an automatic qualifier for the European team.
Aligned with the tradition of the Ryder Cup, the team captains are also famous faces from the world of triathlon, including four-time Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington for Europe and six-time Kona winner Mark Allen for the USA.
The Collins Cup, named after Ironman's founders John and Judy Collins, was originally mooted four years ago and after being originally planned to be hosted alongside Challenge Roth in Germany has had a series of false starts. Now the investment from Moritz has allowed that ambition to be realised, with the PTO having a 10-strong athlete board and triathletes benefitting from 50 per cent of any profits.
“The PTO has been working for a number of years to create an environment and structure where professional triathletes have a meaningful voice in the way the sport is operated and can contribute to its growth for the benefit of the entire triathlon community,” its chairman Charles Adamo says. “We are very pleased to have teamed up with Crankstart Investments and Michael Moritz, who share our vision in the potential of the sport and the best means by which to see it grow and thrive.”
“We could not be more thrilled with the first Collins Cup being hosted at x-bionic sphere in Samorin,” Tim O’Donnell, co-president of the PTO and last year’s Ironman world championship runner-up, says. “The primary mission of the PTO is to celebrate the sport of triathlon.
“The Collins Cup, by bringing together legendary team captains to lead today’s top triathletes in a battle to see which region dominates the sport of triathlon, will not only be a riveting competition, but will serve as a platform for professionals and fans alike to celebrate our sport.”