British hopefuls Johnny Brownlee and Helen Jenkins are gearing up to compete for world titles as the ITU World Triathlon Series gets going in Auckland this Sunday.

A strong international field is expected in the first of an eight round competition where competitors will need to score in at least five rounds to have a chance of claiming victory overall.

Jonathan Brownlee's main rivals going into the first of the world series in Auckland look likely to be Javier Gomez and Mario Mola who together were ranked as the top three triathletes in the world last year.

Gomez famously beat Brownlee in Hyde Park last year to be crowned World Champion after a tense sprint finish which saw the Spaniard just pip the home favourite.

Brownlee speaking to BBC Sport said: "London was tough because I wanted to become world champion, that was the main aim for the year. It was tough to take but I've trained well this winter.

"I used this winter to push harder in sessions because I didn't want to be in that position again and I'm looking forward to racing again. "

As well as Gomez and Mola, four other top 10 ranked triathletes will be in competition on Sunday with their eyes fixed firmly on getting the points they need this weekend to stand them in good stead for the grand final in Canada.

Helen Jenkins had missed the whole of last season because of recurring back problems but will finally return alongside fellow British Olympic competitors Vicky Holland and Lucy Hall.

Jenkins told BBC Sport: "Retirement came into my head but a small part of you won't let you give up."

The women's race will see a new world champion too as last year's winner, Non Stanford, is not able to defend her title due to a foot injury.

The world series begins in Auckland, New Zealand on April 6 and will finish in Edmonton, Canada for the grand finals on August 7 later this summer.

The event will also be held in London Hyde Park at the very end of May so spectators can cheer on their home-grown stars for free just over a month after the London marathon.

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