World triathlon No 1 Javier Gomez is a confirmed starter for next month's ITU World Cup sprint race in New Plymouth.
Up against him will be five other men ranked in the top 10, including No 3 Mario Mola, of Spain, No 6 Joao Silva, of Portugal, and No 7 Laurent Vidal, of France.
Top ranked New Zealand triathlete Ryan Sissons, ranked 14 in the world, will also be on the start line for the Port Taranaki-sponsored event at Ngamotu Beach on Sunday, March 23.
Frenchman Eitenne Diemunsch, who is training in New Plymouth, is also on the list of starters that was released yesterday.
Great Britain's Non Stanford and Jodie Stimpson, ranked one and two in the world, head a star-studded women's lineup that also includes Kiwis Andrea Hewitt (ranked 5) and Nicky Samuels (ranked 14).
"The fields will be very strong in New Plymouth for a race that plays an integral part in a strong series of races in Australia and New Zealand," Tri New Zealand high performance director Graeme Maw said.
"With Kinloch, Pegasus [both Kiwi Tri Series events], Devonport [Tasmania] and now New Plymouth all bringing international fields, we have a real portfolio of high ranking events - competitive events in our own region.
"New Plymouth as an ITU World Cup sprint is, of course, a great race in its own right, presenting a stretch for our emerging talent and ideal preparation for our top athletes for the opening ITU World Series event in Auckland two weeks later."
Gomez, who is training in Christchurch, is no stranger to New Plymouth.
He won a World Cup triathlon race over the Olympic distance in the city in 2008 when he beat Kiwi Bevan Docherty in a sprint finish.
The Spanish triathlete has raced four times in New Zealand and has never lost a race.
The sprint distance involves a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5km run. The Olympic triathlon distance is twice that.
The New Plymouth race has a $US60,000 (NZ$72,000) prize purse.
The elite women's race starts at noon, with the elite men's race starting at 2.30 pm.
AT A GLANCE
Confirmed world top-10 starters:
Javier Gomez (Spain) No 1 Mario Mola (Spain) No 3 Joao Silva (Portugal) No 6 Laurent Vidal (France) No 7 Sven Reiderer (Switz) No 8 Vincent Luis (France) No 10
Non Stanford (Britain) No 1 Jodie Stimpson (Britain) No 2 Gwen Jorgensen (US) No 4 Andrea Hewitt (NZ) No 5 Sarah Groff (US) No 9
- Taranaki Daily News
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