The Collins Cup: The Match Ups We Might See!
The Collins Cup has been in the works for years, brought to life by the PTO and delayed one final time by the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, it’s finally race week for the inaugural Collins Cup in Samorin, Slovakia. What is the Collins Cup you might ask? It’s a new competition format pitting the best Triathletes in the world against each other in a head-to-head-to-head team racing format. Europe vs USA vs Internationals just like the Ryder Cup in Golf. Twelve match races (6 men and 6 women) over a middle-distance triathlon with points scored 3-2-1 for the result and bonus points awarded if the time gaps are large enough. With an all-star line up heading to Slovakia for the opening ceremony this Wednesday, we’ll look here at some of the potential match ups that could make for interesting racing. The Team Captains will have a tough decision to make during the draft, do they put big names against big names or are they better off pairing their athletes against competitors they’re confident of beating?
The 26 athletes lining up at The Collins Cup can be seen below, with 4 automatic male and female qualifiers for each team and 2 discretionary captain’s picks to complete the line up. The various athlete profiles, strengths & weaknesses, and race strategies are bound to make for fascinating racing!
Race 1 - Frodeno vs Smith vs Von Berg
Why not pit Sanders & Long against Frodeno? Simply because if Team USA & Team International want to score some points against Jan they need to put some pressure on him from the Swim. Kiwi young gun Kyle Smith and American middle distance specialist Rudy Von Berg will be able swim with Jan and most likely follow him on the bike. Sanders and Long would be 3 to 4 minutes behind out of the water and be chasing all day long behind a GOAT in cruise control. If Rudy and Kyle can stick with Frodeno on the bike and even soften him up a bit by putting in some surges they might be able to crack him on the run. Smart money will still have Frodeno winning the race, after all he is the GOAT, but in my opinion the Kyle Smith + Rudy Von Berg combo is the one most likely to put pressure on Frodeno and finish close enough to avoid Europe scoring any bonus points in Match 1.
Race 2 - Iden vs Currie vs Hanson
World Champion over the 70.3 distance in 2019, and runaway winner at Challenge Daytona over this exact distance in 2020, Gustav Iden will be favourite regardless of who he lines up against this weekend. Braden Currie is sure to prove a tough competitor however, and Matt Hanson will be ready to pounce late in the run should either of the other two falter.
Race 3 - Lange vs Sanders vs Starky
Fresh off securing his Kona qualification in Denmark this weekend, Sanders has a tough job ahead of him this week to recover in time for The Collins Cup. After going 12 rounds with Cameron Wurf deep into the marathon, it will be a surprise if he’s able to turn his form back around for this shorter distance on Saturday. Patrick Lange will be out to prove a point at The Collins Cup, he’s been flying relatively under the radar since surrendering his world titles back to Frodeno in 2019 but is a formidable athlete on his day. Late call up as a replacement, Starky is a strong swimmer and an uber biker. On his day he might be able to hold off Sanders and Lange, but logic says they should catch him before the finish line if they’re able to keep the gap small enough off the bike.
Race 4 - Skipper vs Neuman vs Long
Joe Skipper and Sam Long have had great banter on social media over recent months, ripping into each other relentlessly and yet both showing up on their race days with impressive wins at Ironman UK and Ironman Coeur d’Alène respectively. Max Neuman has been ripping up the long-distance scene in the Southern Hemisphere recently, and with his strong profile across all three disciplines he’s a wild card who could pull off a win this weekend. Logic says Long should win this match up given his recent form, and unless he’s able to pull out the swim of his life Skipper might end up being a non-factor in this race and could be looking to minimise the deficit to prevent the others from scoring bonus points.
Race 5 - Baekkegard vs Appleton vs Kanute
If this match up materialises it could be a very interesting one indeed. All three athletes are very strong across all three disciplines and have shown strong mental resolve in various races where they’ve battled for podium positions and wins. Kanute will be high on confidence after securing is 4-peat at Escape to Alcatraz, Appleton is in top form and showed it at 70.3 Boulder against Sam Long, and Daniel Baekegaard has that x-factor and swagger that will see him toe the line with confidence regardless of who he lines up against. If this match up materialises don’t be surprised if it comes down to a sprint finish!
Race 6 - Kienle vs Laundry vs Metzler
All three of these athletes were selected as Captain’s Picks. Metzler and Laundry have been growing from strength to strength over the previous 18 months across various races in North America, and Kienle will be out to prove that he’s still got that x-factor after a tough start to the 2021 season. Metzler and Kienle are likely to be behind out the water and might need to collaborate on the bike if they want to save their legs to catch and out-run the Canadian Jackson Laundry.
Race 7 - Ryf vs Findlay vs Knibb
How do you beat Daniela Ryf? Not many people know. One option might be to out-swim her and put pressure on the bike. Rising star and uber-biker Taylor Knibb finished 2nd at 70.3 Boulder on her debut whilst using a road bike at the start of the month and will hope that Paula Findlay still has her WTS swim speed to keep up with her in the water and collaborate on the bike. If they’re able to get a gap on Daniela they could rattle her a little bit, but don’t count Daniela out until the final metres, she’s shown in the past that she can win from the front and from the back regardless of the race dynamics.
Race 8 - Haug vs Adam vs Moench
Ironman World Champion Anne Haug will be formidable over this distance, with her strong swim and incomparable run the relatively shorter bike means she will lose less time than usual on a 70.3 distance. Teresa Adam has come to the fore of long-distance racing down under throughout the pandemic and has some solid results under her belt, she could try and rattle Anne Haug with her strong bike leg but will have to pull off the race of her life to do so. Skye Moench on the other hand is renowned for her battle to the finish attitude, whilst on paper she might be slightly slower than her two opponents over this distance, there’s no doubt she will fight to the finish line and be ready to pounce late in the run should either of the other girls show any weakness.
Race 9 – Charles-Barclay vs Salthouse vs Zaferes
This match up could be a blockbuster! Lucy Charles Barclay has proven formidable over all distances these past 18 months, including some Super League Triathlon and WTCS racing. Ellie Salthouse has been in imperial form over the 70.3 distance, taking multiple wire to wire wins in Australia with incredible performances across all three disciplines. Katie Zaferes on the other hand is untried at this distance, but her swim strength means she will be in the race from the start and her run speed paired with the grit and determination shown throughout this season could ruffle a few feathers at The Collins Cup.
Race 10 - Lawrence vs Metzler vs Sodaro
It’s tough to see Metzler or Sodaro challenging Holly Lawrence over this distance, they are likely to be behind out of the water and be chasing all day. If Lawrence manages her pacing right she should take the win from the front, however both Sodaro and Metzler are incredible runners and are likely to be evenly matched late into the race battling for the points.
Race 11 - Matthews vs Lester vs McCauley
Kat Matthews is a rising star of British long-distance triathlon, and thoroughly deserved her captain’s pick for The Collins Cup. Lester and McCauley are fresh off tough races at EmbrunMan & Ironman Finland respectively and might struggle to match Matthews over the shorter distance this weekend. It might be a case of a runaway win followed by a tight battle for the remaining points.
Race 12 - Pallant vs Crowley vs Hering
Pit Emma Pallant against whoever you want this weekend, it’s tough to see her doing anything other than winning. Fresh off wins at 70.3 Boulder and Escape from Alcatraz, Emma Pallant-Browne is an absolute weapon over the middle-distance. Few can match her bike-run speed, and her swim is getting better race to race meaning she is able to dominate most races she takes part in. Sarah Crowley and Jackie Hering are likely to be evenly matched over this distance, and it could come down to a sprint finish to seal the remaining points, with the possibility of Emma Pallant wrapping up full bonus points for Team Europe.
Based on the potential match ups outlined above, Team Europe will seal 6 from 6 wins on the Women’s side, and probably 3 from 6 on the Men’s side, only Sam Long, Starky and Sam Appleton will win races for Team USA or Team International. Stay tuned for another article later this week once the true match ups are confirmed and we can analyse what might actually happen.