PTO World Ranking System Explainer

The PTO World Ranking System is simple – the better the performance, the more points an athlete is awarded. An athlete’s top-three races are averaged to give their overall PTO World Ranking score.

The PTO World Ranking System is designed to measure and reward the performances of professional triathletes around the world. Regardless of where they race, who they race, the course or weather conditions, the more impressive the performance, the higher the points an athlete receives.

The PTO World Rankings In A Nutshell

At its simplest, the faster an athlete completes a race, the more PTO World Rankings points they’ll receive. 100 points are scored if an athlete equals the estimated ideal time set for the course. If they go faster, they earn more points. If they go slower, they’ll earn fewer points. An athlete’s three highest-scoring race results are averaged to give their overall world ranking points. The athlete with the highest points is ranked as the PTO World #1.

World Ranking System Explainer-img 5

How Do Athletes Score PTO World Ranking System Points?

Our points system is based on race finishing times to enable all athletes to have a fair shot at scoring points – whether in a world-class competition or a breakthrough race. First, each race is given an Estimated Ideal Time (EIT) based on proprietary analysis of historical data developed by and exclusively licensed from TriRating.com. Based on this data, the EIT is designed to reflect a strong performance by a world-class athlete.

Then, following the conclusion of an event, we take into account race conditions on the day using statistical analysis from TriRating.com and this yields our Adjusted Ideal Time (AIT). We do this because courses themselves or individual swim, bike and run conditions can vary substantially from year to year. From strong currents to battling headwinds or extreme heat, the AIT gives the finish time expected by a world-class triathlete on that day.

If an athlete equals the AIT, they earn 100 points. If they go faster or slower than the AIT, they earn – or are deducted – one point per 0.15% by which their time differs from the AIT.

Sounds complicated? In reality, it simply means that the faster an athlete goes, the more points they’ll receive.

So if the EIT is 4:00, the AIT might become 4:10 because there’s bad weather and a headwind that slows all athletes down. If an athlete finishes in 4:05, their score would be 113.3.

100 base score
4:05 time is 2% faster than the 4:10 AIT
2% / 0.15 = 13.3
Total score = 113.3

Which Races Are Eligible For PTO World Rankings Points?

Any non-drafting triathlon with a professional field that’s longer than Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run) and a minimum prize purse of $10,000 is eligible for PTO World Ranking Points, bringing the sport together regardless of branding. This includes professional PTO Tour races, IRONMAN, IRONMAN 70.3, Challenge Family and Clash events as well as independent races meeting the minimum prize purse criteria. In addition, an equal prize purse is strongly encouraged – and also the norm across the vast majority of professional races.

How Do Athletes’ Points Affect Their PTO World Ranking?

An athlete’s best three performances are averaged to calculate their current overall ranking points. This overall score then ranks all PTO athletes.

As the system continues to mature, changes continue to made to the time period in which these three top-scoring races are calculated. From 1 January 2022 to 20 August 2022, the eligible time period was from 1 December 2020 until 20 August 2022. After this point, on 21 August 2022, the PTO World Ranking System moved to a 52-week rolling period. So the final year-end calculation for 2022 on 31 December will be based on athletes’ top three races throughout 2022 only.

How Are Athletes Rewarded For Their PTO World Ranking?

At the end of each calendar year, the athletes are rewarded through a payout from the PTO Bonus Prize Pool, which stands at $1.5million. The higher an athlete’s ranking, the bigger the bonus they receive. Athletes are paid down to the 100th-ranked athlete.

Athletes ranked in the top 40 will also receive automatic qualification to PTO Tour events. In 2022, this includes the PTO Canadian Open and PTO US Open.

Finally, the top-four ranked athletes based on their home region – Europe, USA or International (the rest of the world) – will also gain automatic selection to the Collins Cup based on rankings as they stand on 24 July 2022.

Are There Any Points Bonuses In The PTO World Ranking System?

Athletes can earn extra points at the PTO Canadian Open and PTO US Open thanks to a 5% bonus at these races.

To help better support long-course specialists, an athlete’s top-scoring full-distance race will garner an additional 10% bonus. This balances out the bonus for the shorter, 100km PTO Events and also reflects that long-course specialists have fewer chances to race and score well.

For example, an athlete’s top-three races for the year might look like this:

2022 IM St. George World Championships:

113.82 + 10% bonus for best full distance race = 126.47

2022 PTO Canadian Open:

98.54 + 5% for PTO Tour bonus = 103.47

2021 Ironman Cozumel:

109.29

Average without bonus = 107.22
Average with bonus = 115.08

Therefore athletes can maximise their bonus points by having a high-scoring long-distance race plus attending PTO Tour events.

Other FAQs

The winning margin only makes a difference in that the faster an athlete goes, the more points they get. There is no bonus, or penalty, for winning or trailing by a certain amount of time. This is by design to encourage and motivate athletes to dig deep and deliver their best performances, which also makes for the most exciting racing for fans.

No – the men’s and women’s races have separate AITs calculated for the event. There is no relationship between men’s and women’s winning times in terms of points earned.

Yes, as points are based purely on finish times and not placings, a photo finish yields the same points score. This was seen at IM 70.3 Oceanside 2022 when Lionel Sanders and Rudy Von Berg sprinted for the line.

Athletes focused on ‘middle distance’ races who don’t race full-distance events have multiple opportunities to earn an extra 5% on their score at PTO Tour races. Meanwhile, athletes whose talents are geared more specifically to long-distance races – and whose performances at PTO Tour events might not make it into their top-three scores even with the 5% bonus – can claim the 10% bonus on their single highest-scoring full-distance result.

Of course, the best all-round triathlete who can score highly at both distances and pick up multiple bonuses is likely to feature higher in the PTO World Rankings.

Athletes need to race three times per year to get their ‘best-three’ average. They only need to race more than this if they were unhappy with a performance or believe they have improved and can race faster to replace a previous score with a better one.

With the prize money and points bonus of PTO Tour events, we want to see the best athletes in the world race each other more regularly but without forcing them to over-race.

The PTO and its athletes believe that the most exciting racing happens in competitive races when athletes push the boundaries of what we think is possible. The PTO World Ranking System is setup to help raise the competitiveness of triathlon and make the sport more exciting and rewarding for athletes and spectators alike.

The system has to take into account the current fragmented racing environment in triathlon. That means factoring in new races, different conditions, the global season across different countries and organisers and the frequency different athletes choose to race while mitigating field size or strength in depth. With all those moving parts, we believe the PTO World Ranking System is currently a fair way to rank PTO professionals based on their performances. While it might seem complex, we believe the overall athlete rankings yielded by the system are representative of the world’s best triathletes. That said, we are always open to change and review the system regularly in partnership with PTO athletes to ensure it evolves in line with the professional sport.

No. We’re constantly reviewing the processes involved and working with members of the PTO Athlete Board to iterate possible amendments or alternatives to the PTO World Ranking system. You’ll see changes over time, such as moving to a rolling 52-week ranking system in August 2022. We’re not set in our ways and want the PTO World Ranking System to keep pace with the world of professional triathlon.