The final weekend of Collins Cup qualification racing has some big names doing battle at 70.3 Boulder, 70.3 Switzerland and 70.3 Gdynia for a chance to make it to Samorin.
With the cut-off for Collins Cup qualification on 9 August and teams announced just a few days later, this weekend’s trio of races is the last chance for athletes to secure points to bump themselves up the leader boards – or put in such a big performance that the Collins Cup captains will have to take notice.
There are quality fields at 70.3 Boulder and 70.3 Switzerland with 70.3 Gdynia providing a proving ground for fresher names – but where will the biggest points be made for a last-minute surge up the rankings? Read on for the lowdown on the PTO-ranked athletes who will be fighting it out at this pivotal moment in Collins Cup selection.
Ironman 70.3 Boulder 2021 Preview
The 70.3 Boulder start list is stacked and fittingly for one of pro triathlon’s favourite training location, a global field has turned out.
The women’s race features six athletes from the PTO World Top 20 rankings including Team US #1 Skye Moench, Team Europe #4 Holly Lawrence and Team Internationals #4 Jeanni Metzler, who are all currently in the automatic qualification zone.
Date: 7 August 2021
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Time: 13:05 UTC
Prize Money: Prize Money: $50,000 – pays 8 deep $7,500 to $1,000
Course: Reservoir swim, hilly bike, hilly run
Team Europe #4 Holly Lawrence has had a couple of great results this year that have indicated a return to the form that saw her so dominant in 2019. In Des Moines, she topped the podium, beating challengers racing here including Emma Pallant-Browne and Jeanni Metzler. Meanwhile at the 70.3 European champs just a week later, Lawrence came second only to Collins Cup teammate Lucy Charles-Barclay.
Skye Moench is certainly deserving Team US #1 status thanks to her win at 70.3 Texas, fifth at 70.3 St. George and third at IM Tulsa this year. Moench’s place at the Collins Cup is almost assured but if she can defend her title here from 2019 to beat Lawrence and Jeanni Metzler, it could land a psychological blow to Team Europe and Team Internationals rivals ahead of Samorin.
In Jocelyn McCauley (PTO World #10) and Chelsea Sodaro (PTO World #11), we have a pair of proven performers taking on their first big races after coming back from maternity leave. In fact, depending how the points play out, they could slot into spots two and three for Team US and earn automatic qualification just by completing the race.
With Internationals #2 Paula Findlay recovering from a stress fracture and out of the race, Jeanni Metzler (PTO World #12 / Internationals #4) will be flying the flag for Team Internationals. With outstanding runs at 70.3 Texas and St. George, Metzler announced herself as one of middle-distance triathlon’s very best and a serious talent for the Collins Cup.
One athlete who will be a little less scared of Metzler’s run than most will be Emma Pallant-Browne (PTO World #13). The Brit has come extremely close to matching the South African this season and outran her (and the rest of the field) at 70.3 Des Moines, where she took second to Lawrence.
Rising long-course star Pamella Oliveira (PTO World #44) will certainly be vying for the lead after the swim with Lauren Brandon (PTO World #69 / US #10) but don’t count out World Triathlon racer and recent Olympian Taylor Knibb from having an impact in her first 70.3 race.
In the men’s race, the field isn’t quite so deep but it’s still an international affair as Sam Long looks to safeguard his Team US #1 spot and see off the rest of the competition to show the USA should be feared at the Collins Cup. That will likely include coming through like a freight train on the bike before a powerful run.
Sam Appleton is a quality athlete we’re yet to see the best of in 2021. The Aussie is still as Internationals #3 thanks to his sixth place at the PTO 2020 champs in Daytona last December. However, the rest of the Internationals top-10 are within five points of taking his spot, meaning he’ll need to score well here to stay in the auto qualification zone.
One athlete who’ll be hoping to get across the line ahead of Appleton will be Tyler Butterfield. As Internationals #5 and one point behind the tallies of Appleton and Max Neumann (Internationals #4), it could all make all the difference in making it to Samorin at the end of the month.
Also keep an eye out for the evergreen Andy Potts (PTO World #45 / US #8) and Justin Metzler (PTO World #58 / US #10) the latter of whom will still be buzzing from his second place at Ironman Coeur d’Alene.
Ironman 70.3 Switzerland 2021 Preview
Ironman 70.3 Switzerland is another race with a strong field this weekend. The women’s race is highlighted by PTO World #1 and Europe #1 Daniela Ryf, who’s odds-on for another domination here. If she wins, it’ll be her seventh consecutive victory at the event.
Date: 8 August 2021
Location: Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland
Time: 05:55 UTC
Prize Money: Prize Money: $30,000 – pays 8 deep $4,000 to $750
Course: Lake swim, hilly bike, rolling run
Rudy Von Berg is unlikely to be unseated from his automatic qualification slot for the Collins Cup, but this superb all-rounder will be doing everything he can to take the win, score big points and get back to the top of the Team US rankings.
Having only raced Down Under in 2021, IM Asia-Pacific champ Max Neumann is something of a wildcard. In Swizerland we’ll get to see if the Aussie excels against European competition as he has done in Australia. There’s added spice for Neumann this weekend as Tyler Butterfield is racing in Boulder and is just a point shy of taking his automatic Collins Cup qualification spot.
Bart Aernouts is another quality athlete who’s had great results this year with the win at 70.3 Florida, fifth at IM Tulsa and third at Challenge Walchsee. Given the strength in depth of Team Europe, he’s quite a way from automatic qualification, but a win here against Von Berg and Neumann would make a strong case for a captain’s pick.
Andi Boecherer (PTO World #36) is the final top-50 athlete on the start. The German recently won IM Lanzarote and has two fifth place finishes at middle-distance Challenge events in Gran Canaria and Riccione.
In the women’s race, Daniela Ryf is the big draw here, the Swiss athlete taking the opportunity to race on home soil ahead of the Collins Cup. Ryf is unbeaten so far in 2021 and there’s no reason to believe that streak will end in Rapperswil-Jona this weekend.
The nearest athlete to Ryf in the rankings is Germany’s Anne Reischmann, who recently won 70.3 Les Sables with the day’s best bike and run splits.
Alexandra Tondeur could be Reischmann’s biggest competition for the second slot of the podium, having just come third at Alpe D’Huez Long Course – though bouncing back a week after a race of such toughness could be a big ask.
Another athlete who could be in with a shot at the podium is Germany’s Kristin Liepold. Always a solid racer, mixing it in the top 10 at big races, Liepold also holds the fastest ever Ironman marathon time of 2:41:57 at Ironman UK back in 2011.
Ironman 70.3 Gdynia 2021 Preview
Ironman 70.3 Gdynia in Poland another opportunity to gain Collins Cup qualification points this weekend and while the fields aren’t as strong as in Boulder or Switzerland, there are still some notable names lining up.
Date: 8 August 2021
Location: Gdynia, Poland
Time: 04:00 UTC
Prize Money: Prize Money: $15,000 – pays 5 deep $2,500 to $500
Course: Bay swim, rolling bike, rolling run
Top seed in the men’s race is Andreas Dreitz whose best 70.3 result so far this year has been third in Florida but the German also scored fifth in Texas and sixth in St. George against quality opposition. He’s likely to be down after the swim, but this uber-biker could bring things back before the run.
While Dreitz is the only athlete in the PTO top 50 on the start line, James Teagle is a rising star to watch. The former short-course European Cup racer is having a great season with wins at Challenge Gdansk, with the race-best 1:12:59 run split, and the PTO-supported Outlaw Holkham Half, again with the day’s best run. Teagle is also a front-pack swimmer and a strong rider, so expect to see him going for the win this weekend.
Paul Ruttmann is another name to keep an eye on having come eighth in the championship-quality field at 70.3 St. George in May. The Austrian beat plenty of top athletes on the day including PTO World #11 Matt Hanson, and PTO World #16 George Goodwin. That was thanks to him making up serious time on the bike and run after coming out the water in 44th place – expect a similar come-from-behind scenario here.
In the women’s race, Lucy Hall is the top-ranked athlete. With a swimming pedigree that includes leading out the 2012 Olympic Games, Hall always puts herself in contention once out the water. The Brit is also great on two wheels and her run – which has always been her most challenging discipline – is continuing to improve. Hall was second at Challenge Gdansk and this return to Poland could see her claim her first long-course gold.
Hall’s biggest opposition is likely to be Maja Stage Nielsen. The Dane came third at Challenge St Polten and followed that with fourth at the 70.3 European champs in Elsinore. Stage Nielsen’s weapon is her run, so if she’s in shouting distance after the bike, she could top the podium here.
Katrien Verstuyft is the third-ranked athlete here. She didn’t race in 2020 but had solid results in 2019 – when she was never outside the top 10 – and came sixth in the recent IM 70.3 Les Sables D’Olonne.