The 2017 ITU World Triathlon Hamburg returns once again to the World Triathlon Series to host one of the most popular and fan-favourite races of the season for the ninth year in a row.

With the dynamic sprint course that enables on-site fans to get up and close to the action, Hamburg is always a showstopping event. This year the elites will once again line up to tackle the fast and furious sprint distance on Saturday and then split up into nations to compete as teams in the Mixed Relays event on Sunday. With crucial Series points up for grabs today in a tight race for the World Championship title, the men’s race this weekend is sure to bring the heat.

The men’s start list is stacked. All of the top names are lining up this Saturday to prove who can outsprint the competition to get to the top.

The Spanish are coming to make waves in Hamburg as they hold the top three spots on the start list. Wearing the number one will be Fernando Alarza. Alarza was the bronze medallist in Hamburg last year and already has three WTS podiums this season. He does not however have a win, so the sprint course could be his opportunity. It was Mario Mola though that did win in Hamburg last year. He is a powerhouse at the sprint distance, so he is easily one of the frontrunners for Saturday. And of course there is the question of Javier Gomez, the man that is always the one to beat on the WTS course. He won in Abu Dhabi, but then skipped out in Leeds so he returns to get the Hamburg gold, a feat he has not done since 2010.

With so much talent within the Spanish, individual performances could play a huge role on who will represent Spain in the mixed relay event on Sunday.

After WTS Leeds, the power of the men’s British team grew. Tom Bishop and Adam Bowden both finished in the top five and with the Brownlee Brothers taking the gold and silver, for the first time in ITU history a nation had four athletes in the top five. Both Bishop and Bowden will be returning for Hamburg to see if they can double up on top performances. They will be joined by Jonathan Brownlee, who is still on a quest to get the 2017 world title. After his bike crash that left him in 42nd position in Yokohama, every race counts now to get him as many Series points as possible. Earning the silver in Leeds aided that, so he is on track once again to be in the World Championship running.

South Africa’s Richard Murray returns to the WTS after skipping Yokohama and Leeds. His start of the season however was on track and he already has one medal under his belt by earning silver in Gold Coast. Hamburg will just be a matter of whether he can get back the momentum that he started with.

His South African compatriot Henri Schoeman is also high on the start list and is one athlete who is wanting to get his feet up onto the WTS podium. He came close in Yokohama and just missed it by finishing fourth, but as one of the field’s top swimmers and always improving on the bike and run, any race is up for grabs for Schoeman.

Another nation that could see their men on the podium is France. Vincent Luis came back to the WTS in Abu Dhabi and earned a bronze medal. However, finishing 10th in Leeds showed that Luis is still trying to get back to his former level against his competition that have been racing regularly in the Series. But when Luis is at peak fitness he is a huge threat, so it will be exciting to see what he can do in Hamburg. His compatriots Dorian Coninx and Pierre Le Corre are equal threats to the field. They both have WTS podium experience and can perform on the day.

Other standouts in the men’s roster is Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) and Joao Pereira (POR). Blummenfelt has a come-out-of-nowhere performance record, putting forth huge finishes at the last minute. He is an unpredictable threat that could snag a medal away in an instant. While Pereira is a solid and consistent athlete who typically finishes with strong results and is very capable of getting on the podium.

Last year the Team Mixed Relays World Champion Title went to USA. This year, the men’s individual event is crucial for the American men to see who will be joining the reigning champ team. Ben Kanute is a frontrunner as he is the only returning male from last year’s team. He is known to put the pressure on and makes things interesting on the bike so we could see some breakaway attempts from him on Saturday. Other U.S. potentials are Kevin McDowell and Matt Mcelroy. McDowell and Mcelroy are both young talent and have had success on the World Cup scene.

The Aussies are also men that should not be discredited. Jake Birtwhistle earned the silver medal from a sprint finish in Hamburg last year, while big names such as Ryan Baile and Aaron Royle are lining up and looking for some hardware.

Click here for the full men’s start list.

The women will get the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Hamburg underway at 14:10 on Saturday, July 15, while the men will follow right after at 16:00 local time. Follow all of the action live at and on twitter @triathlonlive.