The Collins Cup teams are complete after Team International revealed their four Captains’ Picks, all of them Olympians.
And it’s a fascinating quartet – with Olympic and two-time Commonwealth Games champion Flora Duffy (BER) joined by Vittoria Lopes (BRA) on the women’s side, while WTCS and Super League star Hayden Wilde (NZL), who has won Olympic and Commonwealth medals himself in the last 12 months, and Aaron Royle (AUS) complete the men’s line-up.
Captains Erin Baker and Craig Alexander have taken an interesting gamble with their selections, as unranked – in the PTO middle / long distance list at least – Wilde, Duffy and Lopes make their Collins Cup debuts, as does Royle, who himself was at #100 in the standings before his third place at the Canadian Open recently.
Of course their pedigree is unquestioned and their selections have met with a positive response online.
Commenting on the women’s selections, Erin Baker, first-time Team International Captain, said: “Having Flora Duffy on Team International will no doubt put some fear in the other teams.
“The reigning Olympic and Commonwealth champion is a force to be reckoned with and we look forward to seeing her proudly wear the International’s green and yellow.
“Vittoria Lopes will be the first Brazilian athlete to be in the Collins Cup. Her tremendous performance at the PTO Canadian Open as well as her record in the World Triathlon series will make her perfectly suited for the fast and furious race pace we see at the Collins Cup.”
Need for speed
On the men’s side, Captain Craig Alexander, noted: “Like our women’s selections, we looked to load up with speed. An in-form Hayden Wilde has been on fire on the World Triathlon circuit and with his versatility, this will transfer well into middle distance.
“Aaron Royle did not let his last-minute entry into the PTO Canadian Open go to waste. His classy performance in a stacked field showed Erin and me that he is in great form and deserves a shot.”
Last weekend, John Levison named our predictions for the wildcard slots on Team International and got three out of four – Wilde the one to escape him.
With an appeal over the Commonwealth Games gold still to be ruled on, Wilde will be heading to Slovakia in two weeks’ time with a point to prove.
As one of the most formidable racers on the short course scene, it will be interesting to see what he can produce over 100km of swim-bike-run.
For those who perhaps could be doubting his long course abilities, it may be worth keeping in mind that Wilde, as well as being an Olympic bronze medallist, is also the youngest ever winner of the notorious Coast to Coast race in New Zealand, which consists of biking, kayaking and running a total distance of 243km in two days.
Baker and Alexander concluded their thoughts by commenting: “With our Captains’ Picks joining an already solid team of automatic qualifiers, Team International will be arriving at Samorin prepared for the battle.”
The wildcard additions will surely have a big impact on the prospects of Team International, but we will have to wait until 20 August to see if it will be enough for them to take the Collins Cup away from Team Europe.