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PTO Tour 2022: $5.5m prize pool not the only good news for triathlon

John Levison provides the analysis following Wednesday's major announcement.

Chief Correspondent
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Redefining triathlon

While much of it has been featured on the website of the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) for the past week, the 2022 PTO Tour was formally launched on Wednesday.

Two new events, confirmation of the second edition of The Collins Cup and big prize cheques gain the headlines – but there is seemingly more good news beneath the surface too.

The PTO Races

Confirming the second edition of The Collins Cup, which made its long-awaited debut in August 2021, the PTO calendar will now feature the following 2022 events:

  • PTO Canadian Open (Edmonton) – July 23-24
  • The Collins Cup (Bratislava, Slovakia) – August 20-21
  • PTO US Open (Dallas, Texas) – September 17-18

This is effectively phase one, with 2023 set to see the addition of two further events, the Asian Open and the European Open.

All races will be in the PTO’s ‘100km’ format – 2km swim, 80km bike and 18km run.

Live TV broadcasting and extensive shoulder programming (something the PTO did very well around the Collins Cup), is also promised to showcase the stories of the PTO’s professional athletes.

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The Cash

The Canadian and US Open races will feature a $1,000,000 prize purse, with The Collins Cup athletes sharing $1,500,000.

In addition to those three events, the PTO’s ‘Race to the Rankings’ bonus pool of $2,000,000 total will also be retained, bringing that season total to the headline $5.5 million figure.

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Age Group racing

The headline Pro races will also be supported from 2022 with age-group events, across a range of distances and formats, “…giving amateurs the opportunity to meet and race alongside the professionals, a hallmark of the sport of Triathlon.”

How does this fit the triathlon calendar?

If we take a look at some of the top-tier and championship, non-drafting middle / long-distance races for 2022 – a year in which there will be two IRONMAN World Championship events – a few notable standout dates will be:

  • April 3 – IRONMAN African Championship, Port Elizabeth
  • May 7 – IRONMAN World Championship, St. George
  • May 22 – Challenge Family The Championship, Slovakia
  • May 22 – IRONMAN 70.3 North American Championship, Chattanooga
  • June 5 – IRONMAN European Championship (Women), Hamburg
  • June 12 – IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championship, Cairns
  • June 12 – IRONMAN North American Championship, Des Moines
  • June 26 – IRONMAN European Championship (Men), Frankfurt
  • June 26 – IRONMAN 70.3 European Championship, Elsinore
  • July 3 – Challenge Roth, Bavaria
  • July 23-24 – PTO Canadian Open, Edmonton
  • August 20-21 – The Collins Cup, Slovakia
  • September 17-18 – PTO US Open
  • October 6-8 – IRONMAN World Championship, Kona
  • October 28-29 – IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship

While the full 2022 season of professional races from IRONMAN is not fully confirmed, in what feels like an increasingly busy triathlon calendar (and bearing in mind, we have not considered short course racing – WTCS / Super League etc. here), initial reaction is that those dates are about as complementary to the wider calendar as is realistic.

Historically for example, we have seen examples of ‘passive-aggressive’ event scheduling from IRONMAN, evidently targeted at its competitors. In its earlier years, the PTO was also very public with some far from complimentary comments towards IRONMAN, in particular. While Triathlon is not Boxing, the big dogs in the sport have shown they can play aggressively too.

In this case – and while it seems unlikely that all parties have sat around a table drinking chamomile tea together and playing happy families (as much as we would see that as a good thing) – I don’t think there can be too many complaints. Given that the PTO is an athlete body – and the vast majority of those athletes still want to race across the year, well beyond the PTO Tour – that feels like a big positive, embedded within this news.

From an athlete perspective (and for those Collins Cup qualified), three 100km events, each four weeks apart, is a very realistic schedule for those targeting that trio of events.

For those going ‘all in’ on the IRONMAN World Championship in St. George in early May, there are more than two-and-a-half months before the PTO Tour starts, once the post-event DOMS strike in Utah.

For those with Kona dreams, a (just under) half-distance race three weeks prior is pretty close to a standard lead-in to the Big Island for many as part of their Hawaii prep.

A $5.5 million headline is seemingly not the only good news we got on Wednesday.

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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