The Netherlands won the mixed relay team time trial in the opening event of the UCI Road World Championships 2019.
The Dutch squad finished 23 seconds ahead of Germany, who took home the silver medal, with Britain holding on for bronze, thanks to bad luck for Italy in the closing kilometres.
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Elisa Longo Borghini punctured in the run-in to the finish, costing the Italians valuable seconds as they momentarily lost their strongest rider, eventually finishing just nine seconds slower than Britain.
Therefore, the home nation took a medal on the very first day of the Yorkshire World Championships.
How it happened
The team time trial mixed relay was the first event of the Yorkshire Road World Championships, with the event replacing the team time trial, which had ran from 2012-2018.
The total 28km course consisted of two 14km laps of Harrogate, with three men setting off first before handing over to three female compatriots.
The event was split into four blocks, with the UCI World Cycling Centre (made up of a number of nationalities), Spain, Belgium and Great Britain in the first block.
The rain arrived just in time to provide a fitting opening to a British World Championships, with UCI WCC setting off first followed by Spain, with the latter country putting 10 seconds into the former at the first checkpoint, before Belgium came through just fractionally slower.
Britain then laid down a time of 8-28 at the first checkpoint, 12 seconds quicker. At the first changeover Spain had gone through 26 seconds quicker than UCI WCC to provide an early marker for the teams to come.
The British trio of John Archibald, Dan Bigham and Harry Tanfield were gasping for air as they hurtled across their finish line, with a soigneur helping to undo Tanfield’s helmet strap, the Katusha-Alpecin rider suffering the painful tightness presumably in search of optimal aerodynamic gains.
The British men had smashed Belgium’s provisional quickest time at the changeover by 33 seconds, while Lauren Dolan then struggled to hang on to the back of the female British trio, as the inclement weather continued.
They recovered, though, and had a 50 second advantage at the checkpoint as Joscelin Lowden tried to stay on Henderson’s wheel into the finishing straight. The remaining pair eventually sailed across the line having set a new fastest time, 1-41 quicker than Belgium.
Tadej Pogačar led the Slovenian team off the start ramp, to begin the second block of teams setting off, with the nation downgraded from being one of the favourites due to Primož Roglič not lining up as part of the male trio for the Eastern Europeans.
Slovenia were four seconds down on Britain’s time at the first checkpoint, as Denmark set off from the start hut, with Switzerland and France also now out on the course.
While the French men sprinted towards the changeover, one of the French women false started, catching herself before fully rolling off the ramp, the squad likely to avoid disqualification as the other two riders didn’t follow her premature start.
After initially trailing by seven seconds, the Swiss women clawed back the deficit to take out a one second advantage over Britain at the 20km mark. Slovenia had suffered through the conditions to finish a minute behind Britain’s time.
While Dan Bigham and John Archibald ate lunch in the podium hot seat, Switzerland’s Elise Chabbey suffered a mechanical, a significant issue as they were already down to two riders heading into the finish.
As they desperately tried to keep their hopes of besting Britain alive, Chabbey then collided with the advertising hoarding. These disastrous final kilometres resulted in Switzerland finishing 36 seconds down, with Chabbey lying on the floor after the finish line, emotional and apologising to her team-mate for what could have been a stellar performance for the Swiss.
France came across the line to post the second quickest time provisionally, 31 seconds down, and with Denmark not threatening to set the quickest time, Britain now only had to have a quicker time than any of the last three teams on the course to bag themselves a medal.
Italy were the first team to start of the third and final block, before Germany and the Netherlands also rolled out of the damp start, with all teams now either finished or out on the course.
Italy set the new fastest time at the first time check, going five seconds quicker than Switzerland, who had gone through a second quicker than Britain. Germany were next through, who then went fractions of a second quicker than the Italians, as the race against the clock began to hot up.
Race favourites, the Netherlands, then came through the first checkpoint 10 seconds faster of Germany, with race organisers seeming to have accurately predicted the correct seeding of the nations.
Their appeared to be some disagreement amongst the male German trio, with Tony Martin and Jasha Sütterlin shaking their heads at the team car as they gingerly rolled around rainy corners.
The Italian men came across their finish line a second and a half slower than Britain, and if the Italian women couldn’t overturn the deficit then the home nation were guaranteed a medal.
Tony Martin then pulled off the front of the male German trio, the Jumbo-Visma rider having put in a big turn at the front before unleashing Sütterlin and Nils Politt to close the final kilometres. At the changeover, the German men were nearly 13 seconds down on Britain’s time, as their strong female trio set off.
Bauke Mollema and Koen Bouwman nearly crashed as they changed positions for the Netherlands, very lucky to upright, then crossing the finish line with the new fastest time at the changeover, 20 seconds faster than Britain. Lucinda Brand, Amy Pieters and Riejanne Markus then set off, with the gold medal within their grasp.
Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini then suffered a puncture, the strongest of the three but with the other two riders not able to wait for her, a significant blow to their nation’s hopes.
At the 20km mark, Germany were four seconds slower than Italy, with Borghini getting back on to her two team-mates, as their gap to Britain remained very close.
The Italians didn’t wait for Longo Borghini, with their strongest rider eventually getting back on with only a couple of kilometres left, which proved to not be enough. They crossed the finishing line nine seconds down, meaning Britain were guaranteed a bronze medal.
The home nation were finally knocked out of the hot seat, as Germany came through the finish 28 seconds faster, with just the Netherlands left out on the course, who bested Germany’s time by 23 seconds to take home the first victory of the 2019 Road World Championships.
UCI Road World Championships Yorkshire 2019, mixed relay team time trial: Northallerton to Harrogate (28km)
1. Netherlands, in 38-27
2. Germany, at 23 seconds
3. Great Britain, at 51s
4. Italy, at 1-00
5. France, at 1-23
6. Switzerland, at 1-27
6. Slovenia, at 1-58
7. Denmark, at 2-04
8. Belgium, at 2-33
9. Spain, at 2-43
10. UCI WCC, at 3-29