BY SARAH KIM BONNER
The inaugural Collins Cup was a triathlon event like no other. A new racing format for the swim, bike, run sport hosted by the Professional Triathletes Organization (PTO) had the top triathletes compete in teams representing Europe, USA, and International in Samorin, Slovakia.
In a series of 12 races (6 male, 6 female races), one athlete from each team raced across the 2km swim, 80km bike, and 18km run. Working on a points system, with bonus points for large time gaps, the team with the most points collectively earned victory.
With an impressive lineup of stars from both short and long-distance racing, the race match-ups lead to interesting racing where surprise results made for a compelling spectacle. On top of the racing athletes, each team had two captains, all legends within the sport of triathlon, that included two-time Olympic medalist Simon Whitfield (Team International) and four-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington (Team Europe). Ultimately, Team Europe took the overall victory, with Team USA and Team International finishing second and third, respectively.
THEMAGIC5 was proud to have five athletes selected for the event: Jan Frodeno, Ben Kanute, Rudy Von Berg, Matt Hanson, and Jackson Laundry. Unfortunately, Von Berg pulled out due to illness. After the race, THEMAGIC5 caught up with Kanute (USA), Hanson (USA) and Laundry (INTL).
TM5: It’s rare to have all the best triathletes one place and now that Kona World Championships has been postponed, how did that feel?
BK: It was great. I love championship racing, and this had the feel of that for sure. The media, hype, and competition were on par with a world championship, and it made it exciting.
JL: Making the Collins Cup for team Internationals was a huge goal for me all season. I was very excited to be selected. I knew I would put together a good race for my team and was so happy to have the opportunity.
MH: This is the level of competition the sport needs. We need the best racing the best on a regular basis to keep fans engaged and get more eyeballs on our sport.
How do you feel about your match-up?
BK: I was happy with my match-up against Daniel Baekkegard (DEN) and Max Neumann (AUS). It provided a good challenge for me against some evenly matched competitors, and it gave a good benchmark as to where I am for 70.3 Worlds.
JL: My matchup against Joe Skipper (UK) and Justin Metzler (USA) was what I expected. I knew I could win with a good race, and I knew Joe could really make it tough with his stellar bike and solid run. Joe raced even better than I thought, but fortunately I had an amazing day and was able to pass him with a mile to go on the run.
MH: I was really excited about the matchup with Patrick Lange (GER) and Braden Currie (NZ). It was exactly who I would have wanted to race from each team.
There were 12 races with interesting athlete “match-ups”. What race were you most looking forward to besides your own?
BK: I think that the format overall is what I was most looking forward to and how the overall points would come out.
JL: I think the race between Lionel, Andrew, and Sebastian was really fun to watch. All those guys biked so well and fought to the end. It was a close finish between the three of them.
MH: I think pretty much everyone had their eyes on Lionel/Sebastian/Starky. It was the “bike for show” round for sure.
Each team had two captains. What was their role?
BK: They picked the matchups and provided guidance for us. It was great to have legends around like Mark Allen and Karen Smyers lending advice that they had learned throughout their career to us.
JL: The team captains were great mentors for us. Lisa Bentley and Simon Whitfield have so many successes, and those experiences have given them great wisdom.
MH: The team captains selected our match ups and help do a lot of the day-to-day things so we could be more focused on racing.
What did you do differently for this event compared to a standard race?
BK: I tried to approach it similarly, but the one exception is that time matters. It matters in terms of points scored, so you need to push the entire race. Preparation being similar for a lead into the race always help me be ready no matter the format.
JL: There wasn't much difference for me in my preparations compared to a normal race. I had more media obligations before the race, but that was all well organized and didn't take away from my training or recovery. The main difference was being mentally prepared to race only 2 others and spend most of the day solo out on the course.
MH: With only 3 people, you had to be prepared to be alone for much of the day. So I did a lot more rides longer steadier intervals rather than ones with a bunch of surges. Swim and run prep were about the same as normal.
As a new race format and new event, what are you hoping the Collin’s Cup will achieve?
BK: I think that it was a great display of the sport. There is so much that happens over a race, and to have 12 different ones on the day was pretty awesome.
JL: I think the Collins Cup proved that the head to head format and team racing is very exciting. I think this will take off and really be a driving force behind the growth of professional triathlon.
MH: The Collins Cup showcased the best athletes from around the world. It was broadcasted live in 100 countries. I think the PTO demonstrated you can make long course racing exciting to watch. With this format, there was a group starting every 10 minutes at the beginning and another group finishing every 10 minutes at the end. There were some really close matches, and some blow out races. So there was a little bit of everything in this inaugural event.
JAN'S PICK: COMING SOON!