Red-headed Ryan Fisher was the first Australian home in a World Cup sprint race that Spanish favourite Mario Mola made his own on Saturday.

Ryan Fisher has turned himself from a “lost soul” to Commonwealth Games contender in six months after continuing his career turnaround at the Mooloolaba Triathlon.

Fisher was the first Australian over the line in a World Cup sprint race that Spanish favourite Mario Mola made his own with an imperious run leg on Saturday afternoon.

World No.3 Mola blitzed the final 5km leg on the esplanade circuit in a stunning time of 13 minutes 55 seconds to triumph in 54m 18sec, beating home South African training partner Richard Murray.

While no Australians finished in the top five, Fisher’s eighth place (55.27) – just nudging out Wollongong-based Brendan Sexton in a private duel – was significant for the 23-year-old Brisbane product.

With two men’s positions left and competition wide open for Commonwealth Games selection, the largely unheralded Fisher has put himself in pole position to join the pre-selected Aaron Royle.

Royle finished a surprising 25th in the Mooloolaba sprint (half of the standard Olympic distance) but has his sights set on the opening leg of the world series in Auckland.

Royle’s training partners Sexton and Ryan Bailie (13th in 55.38) are also focussing on the April 6 race, the last before selection.

But, following victory in the Australian sprint championship in Elwood and a second place to Royle in Devonport in the past month, Fisher believes he’s put down a strong marker.

Thriving under VIS coach Daniela Stefano after moving to Melbourne late last year to find his feet and a true home base, the unheralded red-head will now miss next weekend’s New Plymouth sprint event to prepare for the Olympic distance (1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run) in Auckland.

“You can’t always race that often in endurance sports and when you do you have to make it count so next week it’s up to the other boys to race and I’ve done all I can before Auckland,” he said.

Fisher and Sexton emerged from the 20km cycle leg with a small break on the rest of the large 45-strong lead pack but Mola and Murray surged past quickly on the first lap of the run.

“I had a good transition,” Fisher said. “I got out clean and Brendan took off but to be honest I felt pretty average.

“He got away a bit and tried to pull him back in.”