RACE ON: Luke Willian is keen for a good result at the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup.
RACE ON: Luke Willian is keen for a good result at the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup. Warren Lynam

Elite showdown at Mooloolaba ITU World Cup

TRIATHLON: This time last year Luke Willian needed to win the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup race in order to enter the fray for Commonwealth Games selection.

Having since earned that honour, the 21-year-old now returns to the sands of Mooloolaba determined to fine-tune form ahead of a milestone debut on the Gold Coast.

"I've probably got a couple of weeks before I'm ready and flying at top speed so obviously this is a key race for my preparations,” he said.

"It's got a good field out here and everyone's come out so there's going to be a good chance to test the legs and kind of see where I'm at and what else I need to do moving forward to kind of get ready for Commonwealth Games.”

After winning the Gold Coast Triathlon a fortnight ago, Willian heads into Saturday's race already on the path to peak form.

He beat fellow Australian Commonwealth Games newcomer Matt Hauser for the victory at the event.

Hauser will also line up on the shores of Mooloolaba on Saturday.

Aside from Hauser and Willian, one of the top contenders among the elite field will be South African Richard Murray, who finished 2017 ranked number four on the ITU World Triathlon Series.

Murray is also on a path to the Commonwealth Games, with the Mooloolaba race forming a vital part of his preparations too.

He enters the sprint distance triathlon fresh from a tough weekend at the opening race of the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi last week.

He crashed in that event and is nursing a sore shoulder.

Mooloolaba ITU World Cup press conference. Richard Murray.
Mooloolaba ITU World Cup press conference. Richard Murray. Patrick Woods

However, Murray was confident of a solid performance at Mooloolaba, and wasn't fazed by rough conditions either.

"I think I'm just looking forward to the swim in the chop and waves and stuff,” he said.

"I haven't done a race in years where we've swum in waves and stuff like that so it should be pretty tough.

"I'm just trying to make sure I get my shoulder right and do the fundamental things right and then, hopefully, from that I can get a podium.”

Willian, Hauser and Murray joined several other elite athletes at Sea Life Sunshine Coast for a formal media conference on Friday.

After speaking on their hopes and expectations for the weekend, some decided to take advantage of a photo opportunity with the facility's resident seals.

The Mooloolaba ITU World Cup race will incorporate a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run.

Despite some rough and murky conditions, organisers of the Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival have quashed any concerns about its effects on the three-day event.

Solid two-metre swells are expected to hit Mooloolaba this weekend with recent rain conditions also muddying waters.

But, event organiser Rebecca van Pooss said elite races on Saturday would go ahead as planned.

Mooloolaba ITU World Cup press conference.
Mooloolaba ITU World Cup press conference. Patrick Woods