Jeopardy, drama and the antidote to archaism: GB riders give their verdict on mixed relay TT

What do they like about the odd one out of the World Championships? And what would they change, if anything, about the event?

British Cycling
(Image credit: Getty)

Team GB say they can be happy with their performance in the mixed relay TT, a solid fifth place that didn't quite reach the heights of their bronze in Harrogate two years ago, but against much tougher opposition they can "hold our heads high", says Anna Henderson.

"Being competitive you always want to be in the medals don't you?" she asks Cycling Weekly rhetorically. "But I think with the quality of the field we can generally be proud of what we did. You look at our results in the TT individually, I think we even stepped up from that.

"It's a really nice event, I love it because you can really collaborate and I just love teamwork, that sounds really lame but I do just love being part of a team."

The reviews from four of the six GB riders of the odd one out of the World Championships family are glowing.

"I think it's fantastic," was Alex Dowsett's verdict. "Cycling is a sport with a lot of tradition and a lot of that should stay but I also think cycling can be very archaic and very stuck in the past. And some of the really bad things that are associated with that - one of those is gender inequality. A lot of other sports you have mixed [events]."

"I genuinely, properly enjoyed it," added a cheery Dan Bigham. "About halfway through I distinctly remember going 'I f**king love this, this is awesome'.

"You're suffering, riding along and then waiting for your turn like, 'okay, this turn's gonna be grim' but I genuinely love doing this. It's just so much more enjoyable than an individual venture because it's that camaraderie as a team and to collectively have one ambition and one goal."

"You don't often have that crossover between men's and women's teams," he continued. "And most WorldTour teams have men's and women's squads now so maybe we'll start seeing trade mixed relays and that'd be pretty sweet. But I just think it's something that every other sport's embracing, triathlon, swimming, badminton, how many sports have mixed events? So many of them."

Anna Henderson

(Image credit: Getty)

"They brought the big guns out," Joss Lowden said of their opponents. "I mean, you look at the start sheet, and I know we're competing, but you can't not go 'oh my god, this is so cool' that you're sitting in the holding room there afterwards and you just look around: Ganna, Tony Martin, Van Vleuten.

"I think it's a really cool way to properly showcase the best riders in the world together. And I think you can see how the men's and women's teams interact with each other and just bring them together. We've had a really good week, we sit together, eat dinner together and talk strategy together. And it's just the way it should be at these events."

Bigham says that while he'll watch any time trial that's on (and we believe him wholeheartedly) he understands that often in the individual races against the clock, a lot of the time whoever is fastest at the first time check is fastest at the finish line too. Whereas the switch halfway through in the mixed relay TT "builds jeopardy" and is "so good for the drama" of the event.

"That's what's cycling needs," he says. "You need the entertainment and you need some variety to the sport and to change and to adapt and move forward." He now hopes it will make its way into the Commonwealth Games and hopefully, eventually, the Olympics.

What would he and Lowden change about the event?

"Did you think it was weird we weren't on the same course?" Lowden asks Bigham.

"I quite like the variety..." he answers, "but it's nice to be on the same course because you communicate more as a team, you discuss the tactics."

"We would have ridden it together [on recon], like when we were in Harrogate," Lowden says. "You go and ride it together and you learn things from each other, which we didn't this time."

"Which is a shame," Bigham adds. "I do think putting it on the same course is logical, but I can appreciate why they didn't with Knokke-Heist being a semi-host city.

"I wouldn't change that much about it," is Bigham's conclusion, which is a big tick from a man who's defined by his tinkering with all things bike-related.

"I think a little beep would be perfect for the start for the girls," Henderson offers as one minor alteration, "because the traffic lights suddenly change and you're like 'okay, let's go let's go!'"

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.