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Team Europe Dominates PTO Collins Cup

There was no stopping Team Europe once again at the Collins Cup

Photo by: Professional Triathletes Organisation

The second edition of the PTO Collins Cup saw 36 of the world’s best triathletes battle out in match format in Šamorín, Slovakia. Defending their title and improving their performance from last year, Team Europe won with a total of 53 points. Team International, which included the four participating Canadian athletes, finished second with a total of 38 points. Team USA slipped from last year’s second place finish to third with a total of 22.5 points.

The unique 12 match format has three athletes, one from each team, race the 2 km swim, 80 km, and 18 km run course, competing for points for their respective teams. Athletes earn points for their performance in each discipline within their race and bonus points are awarded for large time gaps.

WOMEN: Matches 1-6

MATCH 1: Ryf v. Duffy v. True

On the women’s side, the hotly anticipated match between multiple world champion Daniela Ryf, Olympic gold medalist Flora Duffy, and Team USA’s Sarah True kicked off the day. Duffy clocked the fastest swim of the day in 25:33 and gave herself a nice lead going into the bike. But Daniela Ryf is Daniela Ryf and demolished the 25 second gap in less than 10 km and rode another 4 minutes into Duffy. Ultimately, Ryf would win with over a 6 minute lead and, after crossing the line and giving a double fist pump, said: “Whoo, yes!”

Duffy looked incredible on the run, earring herself bonus points over Team USA’s Sarah True in third.

MATCH 2: Philipp v. Sodaro v. Gentle 

Unsurprisingly, Ashleigh Gentle of Team International used her swim prowess to build a one minute lead over Chelsea Sodaro and Laura Philipp. Philipp came into her own on the bike to take the lead. While Sodaro couldn’t match the pace, Gentle worked her way back on the run and earned herself the win and bonus points. “I’m ruined,” she admitted at the end.

MATCH 3: Findlay v. Matthews v. Moench 

Another exciting match up that started hot, Paula Findlay and Katrina Matthews fought for the lead position off the swim start. Matthews nor Moench could match Findlay’s pace, however, and Findlay was first out of the water with a sizeable gap. While Moench and Matthews were expected to compete more on the bike, Findlay was in a league of her own and held both women off all the way until the finish where she earned the maximum of six points available. “I never really took my foot off the gas all day.” she said during the finish line interview.

MATCH 4: Spirig v. Watt v. Lopes 

Nicola Spirig came in as a Captain’s pick and, although it’s her final year of professional competition, she showed her incredible talent and skill once again. While Brazilian athlete Vittoria Lopes was first out of the water, it wasn’t long until Spirig—who uncharacteristically rode a time trial bike—took the lead and never looked back. Spirig won maximum points with Lopes taking second. Watt was forced to abandon for medical reasons but reportedly made a full recovery.

MATCH 5: Lawrence v. McCauley v. Salthouse

While Emma Pallant was somewhat controversially left out of the event in favour of wild card Holly Lawrence, Lawrence showed incredible form and many smiles all day. Taking the lead on the swim, Lawrence wouldn’t relinquish that lead all day. Whenever Ellie Salthouse or Jocelyn McCauley—who rode off her 1 minute swim deficit masterfully— took the lead on the bike, it wasn’t long before Lawrence would charge back and regain the lead. Lawrence grew her lead on the run and was even smiling in the final kilometre as she earned Team Europe maximum points. McCauley would finish second and an emotional Salthouse finished in third.

MATCH 6: Haug v. Hering v. Jewett 

It was no surprise Haug took the win but the three were close together until mid-way on the bike where Haug moved into the lead and took control. Canada’s Tamara Jewett raced well in her debut Collins Cup and earned herself second with Team USA’s Jackie Hering taking third.

MEN: Matches 7-12

MATCH 7: Blummenfelt v. Kanute v. Wilde

A match up made for something special, Ironman World Champion Blummenfelt admitted before the race he wanted to show recent Commonwealth medalist Wilde he still had “some speed.” Ben Kanute took the lead in the water but the three were seconds apart into T1. Blummenfelt said he took advantage of his experience racing long distance, waiting patiently to make his move. From there, Blummenfelt was away, winning by over eight minutes and taking maximum points for Team Europe. Wilde finished second, Kanute third.

MATCH 8: Sanders v. Long v. Laidlow 

The most anticipated match of the event was hands down Lionel Sanders, Sam Long, and Sam Laidlow. In the press leading up to the event, the “trash talk” from Laidlow got out of hand and saw Long walking out of a press interview. Long came into the race with a point to prove.

Laidlow wasted no time to use his swimming advantage and set an incredible pace from the gun. Neither Long nor Sanders attempted to follow and the two would lose over three minutes to Laidlow. But, “the duathletes” as Sanders labeled them, shared the work on the bike and the catch, as it always was, was inevitable.

The excitement didn’t stop when the three hit the run with an early attack from Long at 3 km to take the lead. Sanders would easily drop a fading Laidlow and join Long. Laidlow’s race absolutely crumbled as he slowed to a walk and held his stomach. During an out and back section of the course, Laidlow jogs past the two looking broken  and makes a slight attempt at eye contact that seems to be unreciprocated.

While Long and Sanders seem to have let their performance make a statement, the two continue to race in spectacular fashion with Sanders sprinting to the line to claim victory.

Laidlow, however, doesn’t give up and finishes almost thirty minutes behind the pair.

MATCH 9: Ditlev v. Von Berg v. Neumann

Max Neuman of Team International might have taken the win in the swim but his seven second lead over Magnus Ditlev of Team Europe was never going to be enough. True to form, Ditlev took the lead on the bike and neither of his competitors could respond. Ditlev not only took the win but earned his team maximum points. Rudy Von Berg would finish second earning Team USA three points, with Neumann finishing third.

MATCH 10: Lange v. West v. Royal

Fresh off his podium performance at the PTO Canadian Open, it was Aaron Royle who took top honours today. Starting out with an incredible swim that put him over two minutes in front of Patrick Lange and Jason West, Royal would go on to increase his lead to over seven minutes. West would finish second, Lange third.

MATCH 11: Iden v. Hanson v. Laundry 

The current 70.3 World Champion showed his dominance over the distance in an impressive performance that ended with a sub 60 minute 18 km run. Although Hanson was with him coming out of the water, Iden rode away and set himself up for an uncontested run. Iden would earn maximum points, Hanson came in second for Team USA with a total of 3.5 points, and Jackson Laundry, who was unfortunately off pace and unable to defend his match victory from the 2021 edition, finished third.

MATCH 12: Bækkegård v. Leiferman v. Currie 

Daniel Bækkegård took control early on the swim with Braden Currie 42 seconds behind and Chris Leiferman an insurmountable 2:49 seconds back. Kicking off his wetsuit in dramatic fashion, Bækkegård would go on to ride and run himself to the win and six points for Team Europe. Currie and Leiferman would finish second and third, respectively.

For the full results from the PTO Collins Cup, click here.