Lucy Charles-Barclay set for bumper payout as world number one

As the end of the season approaches, 220 columnist Tim Heming takes a look at how the PTO rankings translate into earnings for the sport's top middle and long-distance triathletes...

Lucy Charles-Barclay wins Ironman 70.3 St George

A sublime performance in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship has taken British superstar Lucy Charles-Barclay above Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf for the first time, but the 28-year-old won’t be the only one to benefit from the Professional Triathletes Organisation’s $2m year-end rankings…

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If Lucy Charles-Barclay posting the fastest swim, bike and run splits to win the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Utah staked her claim to be the best non-drafting female triathlete in the world right now, then it’s backed up by the rankings of the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO).

The British triathlete’s success in St George was added to victories in the Collins Cup in August and the Ironman 70.3 European Championship win in Elsinore, Denmark, in June to usurp Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf for top spot.

It means she’s on course to end the year as PTO number one and scoop an additional $100,000 to add to the $60,000 appearance fee for the PTO’s flagship Collins Cup in Slovakia, where she qualified as world number four.

Best of the rest

Charles-Barclay is not the only woman whose bank balance is being boosted by the rankings that were introduced last year, when they paid out early to help triathletes through the pandemic.

Emma Pallant-Browne (number six, $50k) Kat Matthews (number nine, $35k), Holly Lawrence (number 12, $20k) and Fenella Langridge (number 19, $11k) are all ranked inside the top 20 and are set to take a share of the $2m that’s split between the top 100 male and female professionals racing events further than the Olympic distance.

The PTO rankings are decided by taking an average of the three ‘best’ performances since December 2020 until the end of this year. Rather than points being awarded for position, each performance is scored against an ‘Adjusted Ideal Time’ (AIT).

To find out what this is, an algorithm takes the theoretical ideal time the top ranked athlete would achieve on the course and modifies it based on conditions on the day. More info on how the AIT works is available on the PTO website.

It’s not over ’til it’s over

Joe Skipper wins Ironman Chattanooga
Credit: Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images for Ironman

With Kona postponed until next year and many professionals winding down their season, there are still more than a dozen events remaining for triathletes to improve their position, culminating in Ironman 70.3 Taupo in New Zealand on 11 December.

Partly thanks to a reshuffled calendar, there are plenty of high profile races among them, including Ironmans in Mallorca, California, Florida, Cozumel and Western Australian, as well as the African Championship in South Africa.

It could give time for former world number one Jan Frodeno to claim back the top spot that, as with the women’s, was ceded to the Ironman 70.3 world champion. Gustav Iden produced ‘Charles-Barclay-like’ domination in Utah to top the rankings, with the Norwegian’s success in the Collins Cup and the PTO Championship in Daytona being his other high-scoring performances.

The best of the British men is Norfolk’s Joe Skipper, who has jumped up to number seven in the world, which is just reward for a season that has seen him reach the podium in four of his five full distance Ironman races and win in both the UK in July and Chattanooga at the weekend. Since finishing sixth in Hawaii in 2019, five of Skipper’s seven Ironmans have been completed in under eight hours, making him currently the best at the distance in this country.

With no Alistair Brownlee on the rankings having not raced enough through injury, you have to drop to number 34 to find the next best British male. George Goodwin delivered a fine performance to win the European Ironman 70.3 title in Elsinore, adding to his third place in the PTO Championship, but racing in Utah hasn’t gone to plan after he finished 17th there in May before then struggling to a disappointing 31st in the World Championship a fortnight ago.

While there is still time for triathletes to improve their position, Tom Davis (58th), Adam Bowden (66th), James Teagle (67th) and David McNamee (87th) are the other Brits in the top 100 and look set to pick up $2,000 each.

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Top image credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for Ironman