By Kent Gray/ in Devonport
After a French revolution in Wanaka, an Aussie nuisance in Napier and a false start in Abu Dhabi, Tri NZ’s big names are a collective coiled spring ready to be unleashed on the triathlon world.

This weekend’s ranking point-rich Oceania Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championships in Devonport are particularly important for a quartet with Paris Olympic Games ambitions.

Expect big things, then, from Tayler Reid, Dylan McCullough and Trent Thorpe who enter Saturday afternoon’s individual race (5pm NZT) in Tasmania with pent-up energy after last weekend’s WTCS season-opener in Abu Dhabi was cancelled by inclement weather.

Abu Dhabi relay reserve Brea Roderick has also jetted in from the UAE capital with the chance to lead the Kiwi female charge given Nicole van der Kaay and Ainsley Thorpe have both opted to bypass the continental championship.

The spotlight, though, will inevitably fall on the battle within the battle between Reid and McCullough. The chance to restore some trans-Tasman pride post Napier is a sidebar to their head-to-head as the qualification runway to Paris shortens.

Abu Dhabi was a frustrating lost opportunity so it will be fascinating to see how the duo shape up after flying halfway around the world and most of the way back again.

Reid was 12th in his season bow in Napier while both he and McCullough impressed in World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series Napier the following day, even though NZL could only manage 4th as Australia completed a gold medal sweep after McClusky, Sophie Linn, Jack Woodberry and Aspen Anderson won the elite and Oceania Junior (U19) individual titles. You can beat the Gisborne 27-year-old will be fizzing to turn the tables in Saturday’s individual race and will revel in any Bass Strait chop, and up the Devonport bike course’s imposing hill.

The big Aussie threat for the combined elite and U23 race, set to go at 3pm Devonport time (5pm NZT) on Saturday, is Callum McClusky who took full advantage of Hayden Wilde’s terrible swim to win World Triathlon Cup Napier last month.

Top seed Jacob Birtwhistle, Brandon Copeland and Luke Willian add more Aussie firepower and keep an eye too on Woodbery, the Tasmanian teen who so impressively won the Oceania Junior Championships in Napier. Count on Kiwis Finnley Oliver (silver) and Benjamin Airey (bronze) keeping very close tabs on Woodberry and state mate Jack Latham after finishing either side of Woodberry on the Junior podium in Napier.

Roderick, meanwhile, will be keen to recapture the form that marked her rookie year at WTCS level in the women’s race at 1pm local time (3pm NZT).

The 21-year-old Cantabrian was 8th in Wanaka (won by Italy’s Ilaria Zane) and 17th in Napier and will no doubt be inspired  in the company of so many high class Australians, headlined by Emma Jeffcoat, Natalie Van Coevorden and Charlotte McShane. She’s the top ranked athlete in the U23 race but will want to stand out among the elites to keep herself in calculations for Paris.

Eva Goodisson, Olivia Cummings, Hannah Howell, Sarah McClure and Charlotte Brown are other Kiwis to watch. All, barring Goodisson, are eligible for the U23 title.

Roderick, Goodisson, Trent Thorpe and Saxton Morgan have been named in the NZL quartet for Sunday’s mixed relay. The starting order will be confirmed after Saturday’s individual races.

Stay tuned to and Tri NZ’s social channels for full coverage across the weekend.

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