SLT Teams Will Change The Face Of Triathlon

Column by Super League Triathlon CEO Michael D’hulst

At Super League, we are to a certain extent creating a new sport. Of course, it is swimming-biking-running, but not necessarily in that order and with many new exciting dynamics. We have grown SLT to have enough critical mass to add ventures within the Super League ecosystem to allow us to bring in partners to expand further – and that is why we have launched SLT Teams.

In every sport around the world that has a team franchise concept, it has always been hugely successful and driven the value up for athletes and franchisees while at the same time engaging more spectators.

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I think it’s fair to say this is the next logical step in triathlon. One could ask ‘when is the right time to launch it?’ Well, we had the pandemic and coming back now with a new set-up feels like a reset anyway so we come to market with an entirely fresh concept.

We are launching SLT Teams with some great Team Managers who are all invested in the future of this concept, have stress tested and inputted into its initial development and as we see in other team sports will be personalities and decision-makers themselves.

At Super League, it is always all about the athletes, and this concept helps us redistribute the wealth a little bit in a fairway. We are a competitive series so don’t want to just give money for turning up but this means the chance to ensure efforts are fairly rewarded and support those not just at the very top of the sport but also young athletes who struggle to earn a living to grow and develop athletically.

What is the future of SLT Teams? It will be as much determined by Team Managers, and in the future potential Team Owners, as much as Super League itself. The future of cycling is dominated by one stakeholder who controls everything else whereas Teams is an assembly of people passionate about redefining the sport of triathlon, and that’s the way it will remain.

In terms of what it does to the racing, I think the dynamics are something we will grow into. Athletes will have to adjust because there are tactical elements they haven’t previously experienced that ultimately benefits them financially and can be very much part of their journey. Where do you have athletes going for the win? Are other athletes targeting the individual disciplines? Will younger athletes move into that position of being the lead person?

It is the role of the Team Managers to say ‘think about the greater good, think about your wallet’ and come up with the winning and decisive strategies.

Above all else, the concept will be exciting. In the World Triathlon Eliminator, we saw the first couple of stages are quite dull unless you are a hardcore fan. But in Super League in the first stage, there are 15 points up for grabs for the Teams across the individual disciplines, so it’s extremely important and certain athletes may go after it and smash it which will change the race dynamics. Then arguably an athlete going for the overall win may not lead out the swim because he doesn’t need to and step up later, but he can’t get too far behind.

It’s an ever-changing dynamic and by bringing new stakeholders into the sport and empowering them to shape this concept in the future rather than dictating to them, we believe it will help grow triathlon even further.

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