The ‘Ryder Cup’ is coming to Triathlon…

Bold new team concept set to see Triathlon take inspiration from Golf - The Collins Cup to become the swim-bike-run world's 'Ryder Cup'.

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T100 Triathlon World Tour
Redefining triathlon

Bold new team concept set to see Triathlon take inspiration from Golf – The Collins Cup to become the swim-bike-run world’s ‘Ryder Cup’

Something new for the sport of triathlon? Quite possibly.

Taking inspiration from the huge global success of the Ryder Cup in Golf, comes the announcement of a similar format for Long Distance triathlon – The Collins Cup (

The full, formal announcement of the new Collins Cup is reproduced in full below, but here are a few key points of note / interest in bullet point form:

  • The event is ‘owned’ by the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) –, separate from any existing organiser / organisation.
  • The PTO is the new / re-launched Professional Triathletes Union (PTU). What’s new, and why the change? More on that here:
  • The event has the backing of Wasserman, one of the world’s largest sports marketing agencies.
  • The first event is scheduled for June 2018.
  • Alongside this new race will come, presumably shortly, details of a new ‘PTO World Ranking System‘, given that this will be one of the key routes to qualification.
  • “The prize purse for The Collins Cup will be one of the highest in the sport”
  • The Cup will be a long course, non-drafting event over distances of, provisionally, 3km / 120km / 25km.
  • The ‘How it Works‘ link is well worth reading.
  • Qualification for and participation in The Collins Cup does NOT require an athlete to be a PTO member.
  • Much like the Ryder Cup, each team will have Captains – who will also have selection discretion over four of the twelve team slots available. Thus, in total, the Collins Cup will feature 36 Pro triathletes.

What do we know, above and beyond the release?

I’ve had the opportunity to speak to Charles Adamo, the Chief Executive Officer of the PTO, and one of the key drivers behind this project. What did we learn?

  • There has been extensive discussions over a long period with many Pro athletes about this concept to gain their buy-in to this. I asked that question because without their desire to participate, the concept would be weakened.
  • Further to that, the event being a ‘PTO’ event is key – it is in the interests of the Professional athletes to create and develop an event in line with their ideas, since they have ownership of it. There is a similar golfing equivalent here to the US PGA Championships, which is one of the four Majors.
  • While not announced yet, there will be “significant” incentive for athletes to want to participate (financially).
  • A June date has been chosen to best fit with the existing, established ‘classic’ events of the sport, including Kona / ITU World Champs / 70.3 World’s etc.
  • Similarly, the proposed 3km / 120km / 25km distances indicated are to best balance long course racing without impacting athlete otherwise racing in other long course / IRONMAN events.
  • Why June 2018, rather than 2017? “Television coverage (live) is central to this event and schedules are booked up a long way in advance. This gives time to introduce the event in the appropriate manner”
  • Benefits of the ‘head-to-head’ matches? “Like the Ryder Cup, this provides interest throughout the event with a moving leaderboard showing how changes in one race impact the overall standings for the Cup. In a normal long distance race, there is a lot of time to decide one winner with, often, not a lot happening. With this format, the overall points can be impacted and will change all through the event as positions change and time gaps are gained / lost to earn bonus points. Like the Ryder Cup, that is a much more attractive viewing option.”

All-in-all, plenty of bridges to be crossed before this one can be delivered (a venue, television, rankings and finances being pretty fundamental ones..), but – it seems – a lot of the requirements to achieve that are in place, notably with the appointment of Wasserman.

I’ll certainly be following the progress of this one with great interest.

The official press-release:

The Professional Triathletes Organisation announces the creation of  the Collins Cup, appoints Wasserman

The Professional Triathletes Organisation (formerly the Professional Triathlon Union) today announced the creation of The Collins Cup, a first of its kind global competition in which teams of professional triathletes from the USA, Europe and the rest of the World (the “Internationals”) will compete to determine which region dominates the sport of triathlon.

The PTO has appointed Wasserman as its sole and exclusive agent and executive producer of The Collins Cup. Wasserman will handle all aspects of the event, including negotiating TV rights, sponsorships, host city bidding and selection and operating the event.

Rich Allen, Executive Director of the PTO, commented that, “We are very pleased to be able to announce The Collins Cup to celebrate the sport of triathlon and honour John and Judy Collins, who 40 years ago were instrumental in founding the sport we love so much.”

Modelled after golf’s Ryder Cup, The Collins Cup will be a long distance length team competition among USA, Europe and the Internationals. Each team will consist of 12 professional triathletes, six men and six women. Eight athletes will earn a place on their respective teams by way of a PTO World Ranking System, and the remaining four athletes will be selected by each team’s captains. Each team will have two co-captains, one man and one women, who will be former greats in the sport, and will be selected by a committee of regional representatives appointed by the PTO.

An athlete from each team will battle against one another in an individual race of three, so there will be 12 separate race matches, each staggered 10 minutes apart. Athletes will be awarded points for their team based on performances in their respective race match and the team with the most overall points from the 12 race matches will claim the spoils of The Collins Cup and bragging rights as the most dominant force in the sport. The team that finishes last will receive The Broken Spoke Trophy. (Click here to see The Collins Cup–How It Works.)

John and Judy Collins remarked, “It is quite incredible really. It is hard for us to believe that our endurance event, which started in Hawaii in the 1970s, with only 15 participants, has now inspired a global spectacle with professional teams from the USA, Europe and the Internationals competing for a trophy named after us. We are humbled and want to thank the Professional Triathletes Organisation for honouring us in this way.”

Matt Wikstrom, Executive Vice President of Endurance at Wasserman, stated “With triathlon’s growing participant base, affluent demographics and a rise in health, wellness and living an active lifestyle, The Collins Cup will appeal to a global audience. The event will combine a nationalistic, patriotic fervour with a compelling dramatic format, and we are confident that it will become one of the captivating events on the sporting calendar and one highly sought after in the media market.”

The inaugural Collins Cup will be staged in June 2018, over a Saturday and a Sunday at a host city to be determined. The weekend will be an all-inclusive celebration of the sport of triathlon. On the Saturday there will be a number of traditional triathlon events of varying lengths in which fans, amateur athletes and professionals not otherwise on a Collins Cup team will race. There will be a prize purse for professionals in the Saturday races. The Collins Cup team members will be on site during the Saturday races encouraging fans and participants. On the Sunday, the professional teams will take to the course and battle for The Collins Cup. The prize purse for The Collins Cup will be one of the largest in the sport.

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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