Dame Flora Duffy selected for Collins Cup triathlon series
Dame Flora Duffy will be gunning for further glory after being confirmed as part of Team International in the Collins Cup triathlon series.
Fresh from becoming the first person to retain a Commonwealth Games triathlon title, the defending Olympic and world champion, has been handed a wild-card entry for the event which sees 36 of the world’s top professional triathletes battle it out over a 100-kilometre course in 12 individual race matches at the X-Bionic Sphere in Bratislava, Slovakia on Saturday.
Staggered ten minutes apart, three athletes go head-to-head, one each from Team Europe, Team International and Team US, in an individual race of three — six women’s and six men’s races — consisting of a 2km swim, 80km bike and an 18km run to decide which region rules supreme as well as getting their hands on the $1.5 million prize purse.
While Duffy has limited experience racing over middle distance, which includes a victory in Ironman 70.3 South Africa in 2020, joint Team International captain Erin Baker has no concern about handing the Bermudian a wild card, with no doubt over her pedigree.
“Having Flora Duffy on Team International will no doubt put some fear in the other teams,” said Baker, a former world and Ironman champion.
“The reigning Olympic and Commonwealth champion is a force to be reckoned with and we look forward to seeing her proudly wear the International’s green and yellow.”
Duffy will be joined by fellow wild cards Vittoria Lopes, of Brazil, on the women’s side, while WTCS and Super League star Hayden Wilde, of New Zealand, who has won Olympic and Commonwealth medals himself in the past 12 months, and Australia’s Aaron Royle complete the men’s line-up.
The rest of the women’s team includes automatic qualifiers Ashleigh Gentle and. Ellie Salthouse, of Australia, as well as Canada’s Paula Findlay and Tamara Jewett.
Meanwhile, the men’s team is also made up of Canadian Lionel Sanders and Jackson Laundry as well as Braden Currie, of New Zealand, and Australia’s Max Neumann.
“Vittoria Lopes will be the first Brazilian athlete to be in the Collins Cup,” added Baker. “Her tremendous performance at the PTO Canadian Open as well as her record in the World Triathlon series will make her perfectly suited for the fast and furious race pace we see at the Collins Cup.”
On the men’s side, captain Craig Alexander is equally as confident of the team’s chances.
“Like our women’s selections, we looked to load up with speed,” he said. “An in-form Hayden Wilde has been on fire on the World Triathlon circuit and with his versatility, this will transfer well into middle distance.
“Aaron Royle did not let his last-minute entry into the Canadian Open go to waste. His classy performance in a stacked field showed Erin and me that he is in great form and deserves a shot.
“With our captains’ picks [Duffy and Wilde] joining an already solid team of automatic qualifiers, Team International will be arriving prepared for the battle.”
In the women’s event, there is no doubt who has the strongest quartet on paper, with defending champions Team Europe boasting athletes ranked from first to fourth in the form of Daniela Ryf, Anne Haug, Laura Philipp and Kat Matthews.
Team USA have the highest ranked non-Europeans in Taylor Knibb and Skye Moench, who will be joined by Chelsea Sodaro and Jackie Hering.
Two Europe also boast the strongest-ranked athletes in the men’s field with top two seeds Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden, who are joined by Patrick Lange and Magnus Ditlev.
Team USA will be represented by Matt Hanson, Sam Long, Rudy Von Berg and Chris Leiferman.
This year’s Collins Cup will also host the World Triathlon Multisport World Championships, giving leading age-groupers the chance to show your prowess at triathlon, aquathlon and aquabike.