Main photo: Alexander Polizzi/polizzistudio.com
By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi
Sunshine Coast-based Kiwi Amelia Watkinson is the sole New Zealander named among the 40-strong roster of athletes contracted to the new ‘T100 Triathlon World Tour’.
The T100 Triathlon World Tour is the long-awaited evolution of the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) circuit, following the PTO’s ground-breaking agreement with World Triathlon struck last August.
An expanded calendar of eight races across three continents has been announced for 2024, including a Grand Final at a Middle East location still to be unveiled.
Watkinson, who won the Challenge Taiwan Half and Ironman 70.3 Melbourne titles among five podiums last year and is also contracted to the Bahrain Victorious 13 roster, now has a lucrative series of races on the horizon.
The 32-year-old has been handed one of the tour’s discretionary “Hotshot” contracts, awarded to “women and men whose past results and future potential will bring excitement to the tour and host countries.”
As such, Watkinson will now race for a share of the US$7 million across the season, split between athlete contracts, the individual T100 race purses and a season long bonus pool.
The full PTO Calendar for 2024 announced at London’s City Hall, is:
March 9-10: Miami T100
April 9-10: Singapore T100
June TBA: California T100
July 27-28: London T100
Sept 28-29: Ibiza T100
Oct 19-20: Lake Las Vegas T100
Nov 16-17: Dubai T100
Nov 29-30: Grand Final – location to be announced soon
The ‘official World Championship tour of long-distance triathlon’ could yet feature other Kiwis with a discretionary number of wildcard entries to be named for each event, based on remaining spots. These will be agreed between World Triathlon and the PTO. Braden Currie, Kyle Smith, Hayden Wilde, Mike Phillips, Jack Moody, Hannah Berry and Rebecca Clarke have all performed at the elite level of long-distance triathlon and are sure to be considered. Spanish star and sometimes Tauranga-resident Javier Gomez has earned one of the 20 male contracts.
The contracted triathletes will compete in a minimum of five races as well as the Grand Final, with dispensation for those who earn Olympic Games selection for Paris. Thirty-two of the athletes qualified as a result of their PTO World Ranking at two points during 2023, with eight additional Hotshot spots.
The women’s line-up includes all the top PTO World Ranked athletes, including: current No.1 Anne Haug (GER), No.2 Ashleigh Gentle (AUS), No.3 Taylor Knibb (USA), No.4 Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR), No.5 Laura Philipp (GER), No.6 Kat Matthews (GBR), No.7 Paula Findlay (CAN), No.8 Daniela Ryf (SUI), No.9 Imogen Simmonds (SUI), No.10 Emma Pallant-Browne (GBR), No.11 Chelsea Sodaro (USA), No.12 Marjolaine Pierré (FRA), No.13 Skye Moench (USA), No.14 Tamara Jewett (CAN), No.15 India Lee (GBR), No.17 Amelia Watkinson (NZL), No.22 Holly Lawrence (GBR), No.25 Lucy Byram (GBR), Taylor Spivey (USA) and Flora Duffy (BER).
The men’s list features current No.2 Magnus Ditlev (DEN), No.3 Jason West (USA), No.5 Pieter Heemeryck (BEL), No.6 Mathis Margirier (FRA), No.7 Rudy Von Berg (USA), No.8 Leon Chevalier (FRA), No.9 Sam Long (USA), No.11 Daniel Baekkegard (DEN), No.12 Bradley Weiss (RSA), No.13 Sam Laidlow (FRA), No.14 Frederic Funk (GER), No.15 Clement Mignon (FRA), No.16 Aaron Royle (AUS), No.17 David McNamee (GBR), No.23 Ben Kanute (USA), No.26 Rico Bogen (GER), No.31 Alistair Brownlee (GBR), No.174 Max Neumann (AUS), No.205 Marten Van Riel (BEL) and No.267 Javier Gomez (ESP).
Key points from Wednesday’s announcement include:
• 20 female and male athletes are contracted across the season (40 in total)
• Committed athletes will race a minimum of 5 races plus the Grand Final. Racing obligations for athletes who’ve qualified and will compete in the Olympics have been reduced
• A discretionary number of wildcards at each event based on remaining spots, to be agreed between World Triathlon and PTO
• Athletes to score 35 point for first place to 1 point for 20th place at each race
• The Grand Final has increased points to up the ante (55 pts down to 4 pts)
• US$250,000 prize fund at each T100, totalling $2,000,000 across the eight races (1st place – $25,000k; 2nd – $16,000; 3rd – $12,000 at each race)
• The series winners following the Grand Final will be crowned T100 Triathlon World Champion and will win $210,000 USD from an additional total prize pool of $2,000,000
• Between the athlete contracts, T100 race prize fund and T100 Triathlon World Tour pool, the series provides more than $7,000,000 in athlete compensation, and is distributed in a way that not only rewards the winners, but also recognises the significant achievement of racing at this level
THEY SAID IT…
PTO Executive Chairman Chris Kermode
“We’ve been clear that we wanted to create a tour that represents the pinnacle of the sport and have talked about the importance of a season-long schedule of high quality racing that sees the world’s best endurance athletes going head-to-head on a consistent basis in different, iconic locations. So we are hugely excited to be able to announce the 2024 calendar, that it will now be known as the T100 Triathlon World Tour and a world class group of athletes.”
“This is a significant step forward for the sport of triathlon and our ambition to elevate professional triathlon on a global sporting stage and is the culmination of what we’ve been working hard to achieve over the last 12 months. But, as I’ve said to the athletes and the PTO team over the last few weeks, in triathlon terms the PTO is only just emerging from the water and there is still an awfully long way to go to the finish line. But to have the calibre of these athletes announced today sign up and commit to the new T100 Triathlon World Tour is a huge endorsement of what we’re both building.”
World Triathlon President Marisol Casado
“When we announced our partnership with PTO last summer, the goal that we had in mind was exactly this: to be able to deliver a brand new Tour of events that have their own ecosystem and that will elevate our sport to new heights across an athlete’s entire career. By uniting our strengths, passion and dedication, we aim to bring positive change and innovation to the triathlon community.”
“Together, we aspire to forge a more inclusive, fair, competitive and sustainable landscape for athletes, fans and stakeholders. The T100 Triathlon World Tour exemplifies the tremendous potential that arises when organisations align their visions, fostering a thriving environment for the sport we all hold dear. As we embark on this journey hand in hand, we are steadfast in our belief that together, we can guide triathlon towards a brighter, more exhilarating future.”
PTO CEO Sam Renouf
“This was the right moment for us to introduce a more consumer facing brand. As we’ve developed the races and the broadcast product over the past three years, we’ve continued to listen to feedback from all parties, including our broadcast partners, the media, fans and, of course, the athletes who co-own the organisation. It was clear that we needed to be more explicit about this being a triathlon world tour as well as hero the exciting 100km distance, which continues to mark us out and deliver compelling racing. With races being known as the Singapore T100 or Ibiza T100, we believe it will help establish T100 as both a powerful brand as well as a unique format – which will only help on the mission to take the sport more mainstream. This will create more opportunities to attract new host cities, commercial sponsors and engage amateurs and mass participants who we will be performing at each of our stops this year.”
“The look and feel of the new brand tells a very vibrant, relevant and visual story, thanks to the design having been inspired by the heart rate of an athlete during a triathlon.”
“The PTO’s events have improved each time, but we need more of them to take the sport mainstream,” continued Renouf.
“It has lacked a season-long narrative with a World Champion at the end. Media, fans and our athletes themselves have told us that. If we want to be more like the ATP or Formula One, where it’s Max Verstappen versus Lewis Hamilton every time they line up, there’s a need for a contracted relationship with the athletes so we know if we tune in, then we are seeing the ‘best of the best’ every time. This is a key tenet of professional sports – and a package we must deliver.”
Reigning Ironman World Champion and PTO World No.4 Lucy Charles-Barclay
“For me, the T100 Triathlon World Tour is where our sport is heading. Having done four of the PTO 100km races now, I love the atmosphere, rivalry and challenge they bring. I have tried the Olympic distance and loved the fast-paced excitement of flat out racing, and on the other side of the spectrum I have raced and performed really well at the Ironman distance which is all about pacing and endurance. But actually putting something in the middle and bringing in athletes from the long course and from the Olympic distance, it’s just a melting pot of talent and the level of racing is higher than we’ve ever seen in the sport. I believe in what the PTO and World Triathlon are doing and how exciting and big it could become and that’s what I want to be a part of. So my personal goal this year is the T100 tour. I’ve never focused on the 100km distance entirely before and I just want to see how far I can go over the format.”
Two-time Olympic and four-time Triathlon World Champion Alistair Brownlee
“I want to see more people watching top level long distance triathlon, being inspired by seeing the top athletes racing. It’s crucial that the PTO succeeds and I’m convinced that the T100 Triathlon World Tour’s success will be triathlon’s success.”
“It’s tough to create something new but ultimately it will benefit every triathlete, so having the PTO work closely with World Triathlon to put on these great races in great locations that allow athletes to flourish and race to the best of their ability – and broadcasting it around the world in the right manner – has got to be the way to go to bring in new fans and people who want to engage in the sport in a new way.”
Amateurs To Also Take T100 start-line
It won’t just be professional athletes who will get the opportunity to race on the T100 Triathlon World Tour.
Mass participation races for amateurs will be held at all of the events, including the newly established 100km distance at six stages, including: Singapore, London, Ibiza, Lake Las Vegas, Dubai and at the Grand Final. These mass participation races will give amateurs the chance to compete on the same spectacular courses as the pros as well as watch the best in the world up close and personal.
As a result of its partnership with World Triathlon, certain stages of the Tour will also feature mass participation and championship designations, with the chance to represent your country under the membership of the athlete’s respective National Federation. Full details of the entry process for these amateur events will be shared alongside the announcement of the T100 Grand Final.
“Next level racing and a ‘major event atmosphere’ were two of the things the 6,000 amateur athletes who took part in Singapore last year called out,” said Renouf.
“So, alongside the professional races we’ll be running mass participation opportunities at most of the events. Registration is open on the PTO website and we look forward to welcoming all those who want to get involved.”