The PTO has announced that 20 wildcard slots for the PTO 2020 Championship at Challenge Daytona will be awarded in the week of 12 October.

The 2020 edition of Challenge Daytona, set for 4-6 December, will host the inaugural Professional Triathletes Organisation World Championship with 100 of the world’s best triathletes going head to head for a slice of the massive $1million prize purse.

The unique race distance will see triathlon’s stars do battle over a 1-mile swim in the speedway’s Lake Lloyd, a 15 lap 37.5-mile bike and 8.2-mile run on the track.

40 each of the male and female selections have already been made thanks to athletes’ PTO World Rankings points as of either 1 January or 15 March 2020 and now an additional 10 of each gender will be picked as wildcard racers.

PTO executive chairman, Charles Adamo, said: “We are incredibly grateful to be working with Challenge Daytona and putting on a world-class event at the end of what has been a very difficult year. The PTO 2020 Championship will put on a display of resilience and resolve for which our sport is so famous. Because there has been almost no racing, we fixed the PTO World Rankings earlier in the year, and the top ranked 40 men and 40 women are automatically qualified. We will now go through the process of selecting 10 additional men and 10 additional women to join the start line as wildcards.”

The wildcard athletes are selected by the PTO’s non-athlete board members who have the task of inviting athletes who haven’t automatically qualified, but who will be competitive and add prestige to the event. This might include top athletes who have been injured or on maternity, up-and-comers who’ve not had the chance to earn enough qualification points or short-course racers with a high ITU ranking.

“These will be very sought-after openings and the non-athlete members of the PTO Board will have some very difficult decisions to make,” continued Adamo, “particularly as the ITU season is ended and many of the Olympic distance superstars, like Nicola Spirig and Kristian Blummenfelt, are relishing this unique opportunity to have a crack at the PTO 2020 Championship.

“many of the Olympic distance superstars are relishing this unique opportunity”

Charles Adamo

“In addition, the wildcard selection process will allow the PTO to invite some of the young and up-and-coming athletes, giving them a chance to cut their teeth in a championship field. With the top 40 PTO World ranked professionals and the wildcard selections, the field for the PTO 2020 Championship at Challenge Daytona will be one of the strongest fields ever assembled for our sport. It will be exciting to see the best athletes doing battle for the spoils.”

While there will almost certainly be some big names such as Spirig, Blummenfelt and Flora Duffy on the shortlist, the wildcard athletes will have a hard time taking down those who’ve automatically qualified.

After a year of disrupted racing, the sport’s biggest stars will line up for the inaugural PTO Championship. (Photo: PTO)

As it should, the PTO World Rankings list reads like a who’s who of triathlon royalty including Daniela Ryf, Lucy Charles-Barclay, Sarah Crowley, Anne Haug, Holly Lawrence, Heather Jackson and Mirinda Carfrae to name but a few.

Meanwhile, on the men’s side, there are the likes of Jan Frodeno, Alistair Brownlee, Sebastian Kienle, Lionel Sanders (defending Challenge Daytona champ), Javier Gomez and a whole host more who could podium or take the top spot.

CEO of Challenge North America, Bill Christy, said: “We are thrilled and honoured to welcome the world’s greatest athletes to Daytona International Speedway during the Challenge Daytona festival of events weekend. Incredible moments of race history have left their mark on iconic Daytona International Speedway and this inspiring field of athletes will join the ranks of athlete legends.

“We expect jaw dropping and nail-biting battles with finishes that will have the world talking”

Bill Christy

“An unprecedented field of competition combined with the fast and flat course, will be a race the world has not yet been able to witness. We expect jaw dropping and nail-biting battles with finishes that will have the world talking. We understand fans are hungry for live sports, and we are excited to deliver the race live to a global audience. The 2020 PTO Championship will be live across broadcast channels, streaming and media. The world will experience triathlon sporting history.”

Stay tuned for updates as the PTO’s wildcard picks are made in the coming weeks.

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