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6 Takeaways from the Collins Cup

Telling Lionel Sanders that he's a duathlete isn't the best pre-race strategy

Photo by: Professional Triathletes Organisation

The second running of the Professional Triathletes Organisation’s flagship event, the Collins Cup, proved to be an exciting day of racing on some levels, even though it wasn’t long into the race that it was clear that Team Europe would once again be the dominant team. Here are a few of our takeaways from last Saturday’s races.

Team Europe continues to be a juggernaut

At the opening ceremonies, Team Europe captain Normann Stadler joked that the Collins Cup would remain in Europe, even if they had to bring out their “B” team. After the race he pointed out that they didn’t have the likes of Jan Frodeno or Lucy Charles-Barclay on the squad, and they still trounced Team International and Team USA.

Related: Team Europe dominates the Collins Cup

Sam Laidlow. Photo: PTO

Sam Laidlow learned, the hard way, not to “poke the bear”

The PTO loves to push controversy and hype up conflicts between athletes, which Sam Laidlow delivered in style. At the opening ceremonies he said that he was looking forward to taking on two “duathletes” in the form of Lionel Sanders and Sam Long. There was a video circulated in which Long stormed out of an interview with the three men. “Now you’re poking the bear,” Sanders said to the young Frenchman.

Related: Sam Long reaches his breaking point

In the end Laidlow was trounced by the Canadian and the American and would eventually be convinced to run into the finish with teammate Gustav Iden, who started 40 minutes after he did. Laidlow’s comments no-doubt endeared him to the PTO content crew, but certainly didn’t help his race opportunities.

Holly Lawrence hits the finish at the Collins Cup. Photo: PTO

A motivated Holly Lawrence is very tough …

Last year there was lots of hype around the match that featured Great Britain’s Holly Lawrence and Australia’s Ellie Salthouse. Lawrence would crash on the bike and have to settle with just finishing last year, which left her, well, let’s say “motivated” to have a better day this year. Looking not unlike the champion who took the 2016 70.3 world championship, Lawrence blasted to the day’s fifth-fastest performance, finishing over four minutes ahead of Team USA’s Jocelyn McCauley and over 13 minutes ahead of a tearful Salthouse who obviously had a tough day.

Daniela Ryf is the fastest woman of the day at the Collins Cup. Photo: PTO

But a motivated Daniela Ryf is even tougher

In possibly the most anticipated match of the day, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf showed her old form with a huge win over Olympic champ Flora Duffy. The “angry bird” more than made up for a disappointing day last year with a dominating performance that saw her open up more than six minutes on Duffy on the bike (and almost seven minutes on Team USA’s Sarah True), then continue to pull ahead on the run for the day’s fastest performance. Any talk of the 10-time Ironman and 70.3 champ (five of each) not being as dominating of late now needs to be thrown out the window. She’s as strong as ever.

Kristian Blummenfelt on his way to the day’s fastest performance at the Collins Cup. Photo: PTO
Gustav Iden dominates his match at the Collins Cup. Photo: PTO

The Norwegians continue to be, well, frighteningly good

Kristian Blummenfelt had possibly the greatest 12 months in triathlon history last year that included an Olympic gold medal, the Ironman World Championship, the fastest ever Ironman time and the first Sub7 full-distance race. His training partner and countryman Gustav Iden is a two-time winner of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and won the first race of the PTO Tour, the Canadian Open. The two are the biggest names in the sport right now, so it came as no surprise that they would both dominate their matches and help Team Europe dominate the day. They’ll both be racing in Kona (anyone want to bet against a Norwegian sitting at the top of the podium in Kona? Yeah, me neither) then they’re going to focus on making it to the Olympics in Paris in 2024, which should give the rest of the long-distance crew a year and a half to win some races.

Ashleigh Gentle on the run at the Collins Cup. Photo: PTO

Take cover – Ashleigh Gentle is figuring this long-distance thing out

After racing in Tokyo last year, Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle decided to set her sights on long-distance racing. So far the results have been pretty impressive, and they seem to just keep getting better. Gentle won Clash Miami in the spring, took the PTO Canadian Open and was the second-fastest woman of the day at the Collins Cup, two-minutes behind Daniela Ryf. Heading into the PTO US Open, Gentle will arrive as the favourite, but it’s interesting to note that Canada’s Paula Findlay was only 19 seconds behind the Aussie last weekend. That could set up a fun battle between those two, assuming that Ryf skips the race in Dallas to focus on Kona.