Irish triathlete Bryan Keane has escaped the blizzard conditions in his native Cork for sunnier climates as he joins the Wollongong Wizards in Australia.

The world number 47 has a big year ahead of him with the Rio Olympic Qualification period opening on 15 May and running though till the 15 May 2016.

While the Irish winter has not been ideal for clocking up between 25 and 30 hours of swim, bike and run training a week, Keane is pleased with his preparation for the season ahead.

Keane said: “I do think when it comes to mental toughness and general hardiness there is nothing like a block of winter training in Ireland.

"It’s all about consistency and not getting sick or injured over winter. Put in a solid winters training, working on your weaknesses and gym work.”

Following the winter grind he will enjoy a stint of racing in Australia, starting with the Elwood Oceania Cup in Melbourne on the 15 February, before moving onto the Mooloolaba World Cup on the 15 of March.

Then it’s into the serious business of the World Triathlon Series, which is likely to take him to Auckland, Cape Town and Yokohama all before the end of May.

“My target for the year would be to break into the top 20 in the world. I want to push on from last year’s solid results and make sure I take every opportunity I get in a race. I left a few good results behind me last year with stupid mistakes,” added Keane.

"This weekend is all about getting a race under my best, it’s been a long winter and now it’s time to start sharpening up"

“With the Olympic ranking starting in May, it’s really important to be racing well all season and picking up consistent results. I will mainly be racing in the World Triathlon Series this year with a few World Cups and the odd race in Ireland if I’m about.”

As for his season opener this Saturday, The Elwood Oceania Cup, the race doubles as the Australian Championships meaning the start list is packed with the best talent Australia has to offer.

Peter Kerr, Ryan Fisher, Dan Wilson and Brendan Sexton are all familiar with ITU podiums, and combined with some top international competitors it will prove a stiff test.

Keane continued: “This weekend is all about getting a race under my best, it’s been a long winter and now it’s time to start sharpening up.

“If the race goes my way, excellent, if it doesn’t there’s no panic. As I said it’s a long season and it can take a bit to get going.

“I’ll see how it goes though and give it everything I have on the day, that’s all you can do.”