From 2019 the team time trial will be a mixed relay event, but not everyone welcomes the change
The UCI’s decision to replace the current World Championship team time trial with a mixed relay event has been met with criticism from team bosses.
Instead of trade teams, which fought for the title from 2012 to 2018, national teams of under 23 and elite cyclists will race.
In the new format, three men will race one circuit before handing over to a three-woman unit.
“I’m not a big fan,” Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White told Cycling Weekly.
“There’s no need to introduce Mickey Mouse events. We already had two very good events, the women’s and men’s TTT.
“We always had the team time trials in the past in the Worlds and Olympics for a long time, we don’t need to turn it in to a relay of three-man teams. I don’t get.”
The race, which will make its first appearance at the 2019 Worlds in Yorkshire, will open the week on the Sunday, one week before the men’s road race.
Under-23 and elite riders will make up the teams.
Currently there is no under-23 women’s category, but the new TTT format has fuelled speculation a U23 group could be in the pipeline.
“For gender equality, it’s not valid either,” White added. “The women don’t need to do it with the men to highlight their event.
“They had their own event, the best women in the world competing against the best women in the world. You don’t need to see women tagged on to a men’s team in a relay.”
“There’s no duel sport,” said Patrick Lefevere, boss of the Quick-Step Floors team that won the men’s time trial on Sunday.
“If you have a marathon, it’s the men’s results and women’s results together, even if they run together. This is just an exposition, it’s not a real competition. For me it’s ridiculous.
“I have nothing against women cycling, to be clear, but I don’t think it’s a sport to be mixed with men. It’s not an honest competition.
“I’m afraid if the men are too strong and they lose they are going to [look] at results of the women. If they put in the best time and the women’s team loses too much time then they will say, ‘You see, we lose because the women’s team was too weak.’ Or visa-versa.”
The riders will use the 14km Harrogate road race circuit unveiled yesterday.
Times of the teams will be taken on the second woman over the finish line after 28km.
“The mixed relay team time trial reserved for national teams is the latest step towards greater gender equality in cycling,” said UCI President David Lappartient.
“The new format will shine the spotlight on the national federations and their riders while promoting equality between men and women.”
“It could be good, if you draw a parallel with the triathlon worlds, but that’s a short and sharp event,” Dan Bigham said, an aerodynamics expert who consulted with the winning women’s team Canyon-SRAM.
“It could work quite well but they have to work out the details. This will be the first time that the riders will be racing together. It could be great, though, there are some nations which are stronger in both men and women, like the Dutch at the moment.
“From a trade prospective it’s a shame, I know the trade teams draw a lot out of that. Peaking and racing at the worlds as a trade team, Canyon valued it hugely, and I helped. From a sponsorship prospective, it’s lost.”