Since making its debut on the World Triathlon stage back in 2008, Huatulco has become a staple in the race calendar, with a sprint distance course in dependably high humidity that always produces packed start lists and fireworks from the athletes. This weekend, athletes return to do battle with start lists full of rising talent from around the globe ready to put their marker down at the start of the Paris 2024 Qualification Period.

As ever, it will be a beach start for the one-lap, 750m Pacific Ocean swim, then a long transition to the largely flat, four-lap, 20km bike course before finishing with a two-lap run to the tape in Santa Cruz Plaza and, as ever, you can watch all the weekend’s action from Mexico unfold live and direct on TriathlonLive.tv.

Women’s race

Wearing the number one will be USA’s Erika Ackerlund, back to form with a top 10 in Karlovy Vary in September last year and someone who knows how to race in the heat after a fifth place here in 2018. Having bagged plenty of podium success in the Americas over the years, the 26-year-old will know that this could be the perfect opportunity to land that as-yet elusive first World Cup podium.

Brazil’s national champion Luisa Baptista will be full of confidence after running her way to third in Arzachena three weeks ago on a hot day in Sardinia. Germany’s Annika Koch finished 7th on that demanding course and has also been knocking at the door of a first podium for some time, her potential underlined in fine style with bronze at the U23 World Championships last year. A good bike and she will be a major podium threat this weekend.

Back on the start line will be a few familiar names notable by their absences recently, including Elizabeth Bravo (ECU), Claudia Rivas (MEX) and Sara Perez Sala (ESP). It will be interesting to see where Perez Sala’s short-race form is after she bounced back from crashing in Miami to win the Challenge 70.3 in Samorin last month.

Bravo was 4th here last year and 5th in 2019. The Ecuadorian loves to race in the heat, as does Lisa Perterer, coming down from the Austrian hills to scoop the bronze here two years in a row. Is a first World Cup gold since 2018 on the cards for the 30-year-old?

Bianca Seregni leads the line for Italy, an excellent swimmer and former Aquathlon World Champion who put together a stunning race in Karlovy Vary to land a first World Cup podium last year and undoubtedly has what it takes to be up there again on her debut in Mexico.

Another strong Japanese delegation includes Sarika Nakayama, fresh from a top 40 finish at WTCS Leeds and recently crowned Asia Triathlon Sprint Champion Yuka Sato, 18th here last year.

Expect to see Canada’s Kira Gupta-Baltazar setting the early pace in the water, and Mexico’s young Mercedes Romero Orozco could also be one to watch as she continues her journey up through the ranks.

Elite women: 18 June – 6PM Local / 12 midnight BST
Full start list
Watch on TriathlonLive

Men’s race

It was in Huatulco last year that Tyler Mislawchuk reignited his Olympic hopes with a second successive win on the course last June, only to again be haunted by injury in Tokyo. The course clearly suits the Canadian, who brushed off the humidity to outrun even the flying Brazilian Manoel Messias, and a third straight win would be just the foundation the 27-year-old needs to build into his next campaign.

Third last year and proving himself to be in red hot form again so far in 2022 is another Brazilian, Miguel Hidalgo. An exceptional swimmer to whom the sprint distance and flat bike look perfectly suited, coming through the stern test of a tough WTCS Leeds course to score a career-best 6th place finish showed again what the 21-year-old is capable of, and that is precisely why he has the honour of wearing the #1 this time around.

Another powerful South American swimmer is Diego Moya. Still only now emerging out of the U23 bracket, the Chilean produced an excellent Tokyo 2020 campaign to land a top 30 finish, and has been dominating the Americas Triathlon podiums since late 2021.

The home nation will again be well represented by the mighty and experienced trio of Crisanto Grajales, Irving Perez and Rodrigo Gonzalez, though it was David Nunez who pulled out the best performance for the home crowds to cheer in 2021, finishing just off the podium in fourth.

Sergio Baxter will want to pick up where he left off at the end of 2021, as he returns to the blue carpet for the first time since his bronze in Tongyeong. Having moved from Spain to train alongside the Brownlee brothers in Leeds, his huge ambition to join the top table of triathlon will have been given a boost by that first World Cup medal.

Japan’s Jumpei Furuya and Ren Sato spearhead Japan’s medal hopes, teammate Genta Uchida also putting together some strong performances in recent months including the Asia sprint title at the start of June.

Justus Nieschlag is back on the start list of a World Triathlon event for the first time since his brilliant Arena Games series in April and May. Always powerful and explosive over short distances, it will be fascinating to see how this first taste of racing in Mexico suits the 30-year-old.

A strong Austrian quartet of Alois Knabl, Leon Pauger, Martin Demuth and Philip Pertl could have a big impact on proceedings here, while Slovakian super swimmer Richard Varga is sure to be pushing the early pace in the water.

Former national Junior Triathlon Champion and track star Brent Demarest makes his first World Cup start for the USA, now under the auspices of coach Ian O’Brien and looking for some experience at the top level after Americas Cup success in Punta Cana last month.

Elite Men: 19 June – 8am Local/2pm BST
Full start list
Watch on TriathlonLive