With the clock ticking ever closer to the inaugural Collins Cup in August, all roads lead to Šamorín as PTO stars from around the globe stake their claims for places at the landmark event.
Thirty-six of the world’s finest stars will head to Slovakia later this year, with 24 earning automatic qualification and a further 12 selected by Team Europe, Team Internationals and Team USA captains.
After a thrilling weekend of action in Dubai and Miami, we’ve picked out they storylines which matter.
Ryf and Frodeno in fine form
Swiss sensation Ryf led home a strong field at IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai and set a course record in the process. The seven-times world champion blitzed the competition in the UAE to win in 3:56:54.
Frodeno, meanwhile, dominated at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on his way to lifting the CHALLENGEMIAMI® title.
The German superstar’s brilliant all-round display was the catalyst for his triumph in Florida – the second fastest swim, the third fastest bike and the third fastest run – showcasing his dominance right now.
Ryf and Frodeno are both in pole position to represent Team Europe at the Collins Cup, and few would want to face off against either in Šamorín. Well, except one person that is…
Frodeno is triathlon’s Tiger Woods
Team Internationals current leading qualifier Lionel Sanders has openly stated he wants to go head-to-head with Frodeno in August, and he got further proof of what that means last weekend.
Frodeno opened a 2:06 gap to his Canadian rival on the swim at CHALLENGEMIAMI®, before extending that lead by a further 0:54 on two wheels.
Sanders did manage to claw some time back on the run, but still finished 2:31 behind the multiple world champion.
“He’s amazing, a one in a generation athlete,” Sanders said, posting his post-race thoughts on his YouTube channel.
“I stayed up on my hydration, I executed well, but unfortunately he is the best guy to ever do it.
“I feel like I’m in the Tiger Woods era, nobody else is winning. Tiger Woods won everything; you aren’t winning no matter how good you are.
“The guy just keeps getting better and better, he just keeps reinventing himself, it’s amazing, and it’s really inspiring – the guy is going to be 40 this year and he is handing us all our asses.
“I’m going to go back, keep working hard, but I don’t know if this guy is beatable.
“But I get better every time I face Jan. If I could race him again in three weeks’ time I would. If I could race Jan every weekend I would, and I will seek that out when we can travel freely.”
Several athletes showcased their Collins Cup potential in Dubai and Miami – including two race victors.
The double Commonwealth Games champion has enjoyed multiple successes on the ITU circuit over Sprint and Olympic distances, but has recently turned her attention to the longer distances.
A second place on debut at IRONMAN 70.3 Bahrain in 2019, coupled with a 15th-place finish at the PTO 2020 Championship showcased her undoubted potential, which was further highlighted here.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old PTO World #26 Daniel Bækkegård produced an exceptional display to set a course record en route to a superb victory at IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai.
Team Europe on fire
Team Internationals captain Craig Alexander recently described the Team Europe line-up as ‘stacked’, and there is zero doubt that comment was backed up by last weekend’s evidence.
All four race winners could line up on Team Europe’s roster come August. Ryf and Frodeno are currently the top qualifiers on the women’s and men’s side respectively, while Bækkegård and Stimpson surged into the reckoning with their victories.
In fact, nine of the 12 podium finishers from Dubai and Miami represent European countries, with only Team Internationals’ Sanders as well as Team USA’s Jackie Hering and Ben Kanute breaking into the top three.