Collins Cup preview: how will it play out and what are Team Europe’s chances?

Columnist Tim Heming is in Slovakia for the inaugural Collins Cup, which takes place this coming Saturday and promises a feast of action for tri fans. Here's what you can expect… 

Collins Cup swim, bike, run graphic

The inaugural Collins Cup takes place in Slovakia this coming Saturday and promises a feast of action for triathlon fans in an exciting new match-play format.


A five-strong British contingent will compete for Europe, making up almost half of the six-man, six-woman squad that goes head-to-head against teams from the USA and Rest of the World in 12 match-ups in the Professional Triathletes Organisation’s flagship event.

How does the Collins Cup work?

Each trio of triathletes will be set off at 10-minute intervals over the 2km swim, 80km bike and 18km run course in and around the purpose-built sporting complex of the x-bionic sphere in Samorin. The women’s matches go first, with an hour’s break before the men’s start.

First across the line in each match scores 3pts, then 2pts and 1pts for subsequent placing, with those finishing upfront having the opportunity to score bonus points for time gaps of more than 2, 4 and 6mins. The team with the most points will lift the Collins Cup trophy, all 40 pounds and 34 inches of it, made by Tiffany & Co. and named after Ironman co-founders John and Judy.

Who is racing?

With $1.5million in appearance fees, it’s little surprise the Collins Cup has attracted a host of the biggest names in the sport including reigning Ironman champions Jan Frodeno and Anne Haug, and previous multiple Kona winners Daniela Ryf and Patrick Lange.

All are members of team Europe, and achieved their spots through being placed in the top four of the PTO rankings, with the other two berths falling to captains’ picks, which has allowed skipper Karen Smyers to bolster the USA squad by selecting Olympic medal winners Katie Zafares and Taylor Knibb.

Other than Haug and Ryf, the rest of the European women are British. Lucy Charles-Barclay, the reigning European Ironman 70.3 champion has raced at all distances, and even in the Olympic swimming trials this year and is world ranked No 4. USA-based Holly Lawrence from Wales is the 2016 Ironman 70.3 world champion and ranked fifth.

They are joined by army physio and Ironman UK champ Kat Matthews who served up one of the fastest Ironman marathons ever with a 2:49:48 at Tulsa in May, and Emma Pallant-Browne, who has won five of seven races in 2021 and finished on the podium in the other two.

On the men’s side another Ironman UK winner from this year, Joe Skipper joins German trio Lange, Frodeno, and Sebastian Kienle, and with Ironman 70.3 world champion Gustav Iden also in the mix, the Europeans are out-and-out favourites.

They might not have it all their own way, though. The Internationals team includes the likes of Canadian duo Lionel Sanders and Challenge Daytona winner Paula Findlay, plus a slew of fast-biking Antipodeans including Kiwi pair and world-ranked No 2 Teresa Adam and the up ’n coming Kyle Smith who has tasted defeat just once in six outings over the middle distance.

The match-ups are selected in a draft format with the captains taking it in turn to select an athlete for each of the 12 clashes during this evening’s live opening ceremony.

When does the Collins Cup start?

The racing starts at 1pm (CEST) (12pm BST) Saturday with the women’s match-ups. At 3pm (CEST) (2pm BST) the men will start to join them on the course. It’s broadcast live on Eurosport in the UK with highlights on BT Sport. You can find out full listing details depending on your location on the Collins Cup website.

The race broadcast promises to be spectacular with a secondary dashboard with live race data available via the PTO Stats Site and viewers having the ability to listen to the captains talking to their charges through earpieces throughout the event.


To get even more interactive you can take part in the Collins Cup Fantasy Game, with prizes including an all-expenses paid trip to the 2022 Collin Cup, Tag Heuer Connected Watches and Wahoo KICKR Bikes and Smart Trainers.