Making its hosting debut into the ITU World Cup family, the 2016 Montreal ITU Triathlon World Cup kicks off this weekend with a men’s start list that is sure to christen the event in a top fashion.

Serving up a speedy sprint-distance course that will find the athletes touring around the French-Canadian city, Montreal is also the last major ITU competition before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro welcomes the triathlon world to Copacabana Beach in just a couple of weeks.

Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt will lead the way on the men’s side. As the top-ranked man on the start list, Blummenfelt has earned that position after having a breakthrough season so far this year. He snagged his first career World Cup win in Cagliari earlier this year and then followed up that performance by landing himself on his first WTS podium in Yokohama. As one of the strongest cyclists in the field, he also has strong abilities in his run, so with the sprint distance course this weekend he could be the top threat before he jets off to Rio to compete in a few short weeks.

The only other Rio-bound athletes on the men’s roster is Brazil’s own Diogo Sclebin and Puerto Rico’s Manuel Huerta. Sclebin has never graced a World Cup podium before, and while Huerta does hold the honor of earning World Cup hardware, he has not seen a World Cup podium since 2012, so Montreal could be the perfect opportunity for both men to make strides as they enter crucial timing before Rio.

USA’s Kevin McDowell and Eric Lagerstrom will lead the way for Canada’s neighboring nation. While both men just missed the mark to make the Olympic roster for the U.S., both will be strong medal contenders going into the weekend. McDowell has had previous World Cup success in Chengdu, earning the silver in 2014 and the bronze last year, so knows what it takes to get up on a World Cup podium. Although Lagerstrom has never made it onto a World Cup podium before, he is a very strong cyclist, so could easily earn his first in Montreal.

Drew Box of Australia also nears the top of the men’s start list. He earned his first career World Cup medal in Huatulco earlier this year by seizing the bronze. He also has competed in every World Cup race this year, excluding Cagliari only due to the fact that it was on the same day as Huatulco, so he has plenty of World Cup experience that could work to his benefit this weekend.

The top Canadian man is Matthew Sharpe. While he has never seen a World Cup podium before, his improvements show promise with his performance finishes, so competing in his home country could be the boost he needs to make it onto his first.

Click here for full men’s start list.

The women will get the 2016 Montreal ITU Triathlon World Cup underway at 16:30 on Sunday August 7, while the men will follow at 18:00 local time. Follow all of the action with live timing at and on twitter @triathlonlive.