With the 2021 Collins Cup rescheduled for August in Šamorín, Slovakia, elite triathletes from around the globe are seeking vital qualification points to ensure they are part of the landmark event.
Team Europe, Team Internationals and Team USA will compete for bragging rights as we bring a taste of the Ryder Cup to triathlon.
A total of 12 three-athlete races, taking place over a half-distance course, six for the men and six for the women, will decide which region will take home the inaugural Collins Cup.
Four men and four women will qualify automatically for each team based on the Collins Cup qualification protocol, with team captains then having the task of filling the final four spots on their rosters with captain’s picks.
As the 2021 season gets until full swing, we take a look at the athletes who currently occupy those coveted automatic spots, and those who are currently on the outside looking in.
Team Europe: Current Automatic Qualifiers
In the mix
Men: Joe Skipper (7), George Goodwin (15), Pieter Heemeryck (17), Andreas Dreitz (18), Pablo Dapena Gonzalez (19)
Women: Daniela Bleymehl (14), Radka Kahlefeldt (15), Laura Philipp (16), Imogen Simmonds (17), Katrina Matthews (19)
Both current PTO World Ranked #1s Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf are set to headline a star-studded cast.
German great Frodeno makes his seasonal debut on March 12 at CHALLENGEMIAMI, while Swiss superstar Ryf will be in action the same weekend at IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai.
Two-time Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee, PTO 2020 Championship victor Gustav Iden and modern-day great Sebastien Kienle currently fill the remaining automatic qualification spots for the men.
Ryf is joined by Lucy Charles-Barclay, Anne Haug and Holly Lawrence in the automatic qualification spots on the women’s roster, as things stand.
The leading four women currently have a 15-point ranking lead on fifth-placed Daniela Bleymehl, who is closely followed by Radka Kahlefeldt, Laura Philipp, Imogen Simmonds and Katrina Matthews. Simmonds will hope to boost her chances when she takes on Ryf in Dubai in March.
Meanwhile, Joe Skipper sits just three points outside of automatic qualification and has the opportunity to improve his points tally at IRONMAN Dubai 70.3 in March – as does Pieter Heemeryck.
Andreas Dreitz and Pablo Dapena Gonzalez are also in contention for an automatic berth, and both are set to line up at CHALLENGEMIAMI.
Team Internationals: Current Automatic Qualifiers
In the mix
Men: Sam Appleton (16), Cody Beals (21), Mike Phillips (25), Josh Amberger (30), Tim Reed (31)
Women: Amelia Watkinson (18), Ellie Salthouse (21), Jeanni Seymour (26), Mirinda Carfrae (27), Hannah Wells (29)
Canada’s Lionel Sanders and New Zealand’s Teresa Adam are the leading qualifiers for Team Internationals as things stand. Sanders is due to open his 2021 campaign at CHALLENGEMIAMI while Adam already has a victory under her belt this season at the 2021 Tauranga Half.
The women’s roster right now includes PTO 2020 Championship winner Paula Findlay, with Australian duo Carrie Lester and Sarah Crowley set to join her in Miami in March for what is expected to be a spectacular race.
Bermudan Tyler Butterfield will compete with Sanders at CHALLENGEMIAMI on the men’s side, while perennial half-distance race-winner Braden Currie will race at IRONMAN New Zealand in late-March.
Australian Cameron Wurf currently holds the other automatic spot, but has yet to appear in 2021.
On the women’s side, two athletes have started the 2021 season in fantastic form – Australian Ellie Salthouse and New Zealander Hannah Wells. Wells has claimed three victories over the New Zealand summer, including a defeat of Adam at Rotorua Suffer Half.
Salthouse meanwhile, has beaten all-comers on the Australian circuit in the last few months. She prevailed at ‘Hell of the West’ and the PTO-supported Big Husky Triathlon (defeating another Collins Cup hopeful in Amelia Watkinson).
Tim Reed should also receive a crucial points boost from his second-place finish at the Big Husky race, and one other athlete who has work to do to earn a spot at the event is New Zealand’s Kyle Smith (33). Few would bet against him though after consecutive victories at Rotorua Suffer, Tauranga Half and CHALLENGEWANAKA.
Team USA: Current Automatic Qualifiers
In the mix
Men: Chris Leiferman (14), Sam Long (24), Andrew Starykowicz (34), Matthew Russell (45), Ben Kanute (47)
Women: Heather Jackson (13), Jackie Hering (20), Meredith Kessler (25), Linsey Corbin (32), Lesley Smith (34)
The majority of the potential US roster will make their first appearances of the 2021 season at CHALLENGEMIAMI on March 12.
As it stands, Ben Hoffman and Skye Moench are the leading qualifiers for Team US and both will be hoping to solidify their spots in the team with a big performances in South Florida.
Hoffman, Rudy Von Berg, Matt Hanson and Tim O’Donnell currently hold the automatic qualification spots on the men’s side. All four will be on the start line on March 12.
They will be joined among others by Chris Leiferman, Andrew Starykowicz, and Ben Kanute, who are currently on the bubble.
On the women’s side only Moench of the top four will race in Florida, leaving the door open for those on the bubble to earn crucial qualification points. Heather Jackson, Jackie Hering, Meredith Kessler and Lesley Smith will all line up alongside the #9 PTO World-Ranked Moench.
Jocelyn McCauley, Chelsea Sodaro and Sarah Piampiano are the current incumbents for the women’s US automatic spots. All three are currently on maternity leave from the sport, with Piampiano welcoming her baby son Harrison into the world earlier this week.
IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai – March 12
Men: Pieter Heemeryck, Joe Skipper
Women: Daniela Ryf, Imogen Simmons
CHALLENGEMIAMI – March 12
Men: Jan Frodeno, Lionel Sanders, Ben Hoffman, Rudy Von Berg, Matt Hanson, Tim O’Donnell, Tyler Butterfield, Chris Leiferman, Sam Appleton, Andreas Dreitz, Pablo Dapena Gonzalez, Andre Starykowicz, Ben Kanute.
Women: Lucy Charles-Barclay, Sarah Crowley, Anne Haug, Carrie Lester, Paula Findlay, Sky Moench, Heather Jackson, Jackie Hering, Meredith Kessler, Lesley Smith
IRONMAN New Zealand – March 27
Men: Mike Phillips, Braden Currie, Kyle Smith
Women: Hannah Wells
IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong – March 28
Men: Josh Amberger, Tim Reed
Women: Amelia Watkinson, Ellie Salthouse
• Current PTO World Ranking of each athlete in brackets.