Sarah Crowley heads into the Hawaii Ironman as Australia's best chance in the women's race as Swiss standout Daniela Ryf chases her third straight title.
Three-time Hawaii Ironman champion Mirinda Carfrae believes fellow Australian Sarah Crowley is on track to continue her stunning year with a podium finish at the famed race this weekend.
Swiss star Daniela Ryf will start as a red-hot favourite on Saturday, chasing her third straight title and on the back of a stunning Kona course record last year.
Carfrae beat Ryf in 2014 to claim her third crown, but won't race this year after giving birth to baby girl Isabelle only seven weeks ago.
The 36-year-old Queenslander boasts a phenomenal strike-rate in Hawaii, missing the top three just once - in 2015 - in eight starts.
But Carfrae is upbeat about the chances of in-form Crowley flying the flag for Australia in her absence.
Crowley has won two titles this year over the brutal Ironman distance - which involves a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run - after swapping her corporate job for professional triathlon in 2015 and moving up to long-distance racing.
They were heavyweight victories too - both regional championship wins - at Ironman Cairns in June and then Ironman Frankfurt only a month later.
"Sarah is definitely the new kid on the block. She's had a great year," Carfrae told AAP.
"She's going to be my favourite Australian woman. The only question mark I've got is she's had a big year of racing and performing. But if she can bring what she did in Cairns, then I think she'll be on the podium."
Not that Crowley is feeling any pressure in her second start in Kona after finishing 15th in 2016.
"I'm feeling good," a relaxed Crowley said.
"I've had a pretty amazing year. I've stepped up a couple of levels. And I'm really looking forward to being able to execute that on race day. It's pretty exciting."
Crowley is one of five Australian women in the field, with Melissa Hauschildt looking to bounce back in Kona after failing to finish last year.
That led to surgery to correct a kink in the artery of her left leg, which cut off the blood supply when in the time trial position on the bike.
Amongst those likely to push Ryf are American Heather Jackson, a former ice hockey player, and Great Britain's Rachel Joyce.
But in the wake of Ryf's blistering course record last year of record of eight hours and 46 seconds, Carfrae is tipping a three-peat unless something goes horribly wrong in a race forecasted to be slogged out in 31 degree heat.
"It's very hard to beat someone who has no weakness," said Carfrae.
"That said, some crazy things have happened before here on the island."