Andrea Hewitt ready for opening race of 2014

Last updated 11:54 14/03/2014

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Andrea Hewitt comes out of virtual hibernation on Queensland's Sunshine Coast tomorrow as New Zealand's leading triathlete takes her first competitive step of the year towards the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

The 31-year-old Cantabrian lines up in the opening ITU World Cup race of the season in Mooloolaba, north of Brisbane, a build-up event for the launch of the ITU World Series in Auckland next month.

Currently ranked No.5 in the world, Hewitt has already met the nomination criteria for Scotland and will be New Zealand's main medal hope when the multi-sport endurance event is held in Strathclyde Country Park in late July.

Although comforted to have already qualified for her second Commonwealth Games, Hewitt has been training hard over the Kiwi summer after starting her preparations for 2014 with the French national team in the Canary Islands with her coach and partner Laurent Vidal.

She returned to the South Island in late December and has spent the last three weeks at her regular training base at Snow Farm in Wanaka.

"It has all gone really well and I am ready to race now," said Hewitt, who will also contest the ITU World Cup Sprint race in New Plymouth next weekend.

"These races will be good preparation, and I can go into Auckland looking at it as an ITU World Series race and focuz on my performance rather than a selection process (for Glasgow)."

Hewitt is among a high quality 34-strong field at Mooloolaba headed by defending Mooloolaba champion and world No.3 Anne Haug.

The German is a renowned as a strong cyclist so Hewitt will be hoping to build a buffer on the 750m swim leg before the competitors embark on a sprint distance 20km bike and 5km run.

American Gwen Jorgensen and local favourites Emma Moffatt - who has also been nominated for Glasgow - and Ashleigh Gentle are also expected to push for a podium spot.

Laura Wood is New Zealand's other entrant in the women's race while Bryce McMaster, Sam Ward and Dean Harrison carry New Zealand's slender hopes in the men's event.

Spaniard Mario Mola is considered the favourite to head a 70-strong field missing the two triathletes that beat him in last year's World Series standings - countryman and London Olympics silver medallist Javier Gomez and Jonathan Brownlee, who took bronze two years ago.

South African Richard Murray and Glasgow-bound Australian Aaron Royle are also predicted to challenge for a medal while after taking much of the 2013 season off due to injury Frenchman David Hauss, who finished fourth at the London Olympics, is also primed to make a successful comeback.

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- Fairfax Media

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