Australia's Ashleigh Gentle is top seeded at the ITU World Cup that starts tomorrow in Mooloolaba, Queensland ©Getty Images

Australian triathlete Ashleigh Gentle, winner of the International Triathlon Union's Grand Final on the Gold Coast last September, is top seed on home ground for the World Cup that starts tomorrow in Mooloolaba, Queensland.

This will be the 17th consecutive year that this venue has played host to the second stop of the ITU World Cup series, and this year's start list is stacked.

The sprint distance race format staged in Mooloolaba is renowned for being tough, scenic and a spectacle for the crowds, which line the coastal course.

Athletes will tackle a challenging course starting with a 750 metre ocean swim off Mooloolaba Main Beach.

The bike course consists of four laps on a somewhat technical and hilly five kilometre loop, taking in Mooloolaba Esplanade and Alexandra Parade.

Athletes will then go for a 5km run over an undulating three-lap course, striding across the coastline. 

"I will take any chance to race at home in Queensland, the older I get, the more I appreciate this opportunity," said Gentle, who is making a habit of achieving notable home successes, having been a member of the Australian team that won mixed relay gold at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

"We rarely get to race in the ocean and I love that about Mooloolaba.

"The bike leg is really simple but the hill and the heat makes it a challenging course with plenty of locals around to support us on the run.

"Mooloolaba will be the last race I do before getting back to a consistent training block.

"It's still really early on in the year but it's a good chance to get to race at home before the travels begin.

"My main goal of the year is the Tokyo [2020 Olympics] test event in August."

Gentle and her compatriots Natalie Van Coevorden, Charlotte McShane and defending champion Emma Jeffcoat will also be in the hunt for valuable Olympic qualifying points.

Mooloolaba, in Queensland, is host once again to the second stop in the ITU's World Cup series, with competition beginning tomorrow ©Getty Images
Mooloolaba, in Queensland, is host once again to the second stop in the ITU's World Cup series, with competition beginning tomorrow ©Getty Images

"This will be my fourth year back to Mooloolaba World Cup," said Jeffcoat.

"It's an event on home soil with a surf swim and tough course that I really love.

"Last year was special earning my first World Cup podium and win, surrounded by family and friends.

"I'll be looking to have a strong hit out again on Saturday."

The Australians will have to watch out for Italy's Annamaria Mazzetti, Estonia's Kaidi Kivioja, Spain's Mirian Casillas Garcia and Tamara Gorman and Renee Tomlin from the United States.

The men's field is also stacked with World Cup podium experience and sprint distance specialists.

Canada's Tyler Mislawchuk is the top seeded male, having just missed a top ten finish in last weekend's opening World Series event in Abu Dhabi after taking an unfortunate tumble.

Eli Hemming of the US, whose last leg effort helped the Americans take silver behind Australia in last weekend's mixed relay, will be looking for another podium position.

Other strong conteners are New Zealand's Sam Ward, Canada's Matthew Sharpe, Australian Olympian Ryan Ballie and swim specialist Rchard Varga from Slovakia.