The 2019 Road World Championships in Yorkshire got off to an exhilarating start with a brand new event, the team time trial mixed relay.
National squads were made up of three male and three female riders, with the men completing the 14km Harrogate course first before handing over to the women for another lap, the clock finally stopping when the second female rider crossed the line.
Great Britain rode in the first of four blocks, posting a fast time and settling down into the hot seat to see how it would hold up against the other nations.
With just the final trio of Italy, Germany and the Netherlands to come, Britain still held the provisionally quickest time. Germany and the Netherlands shot off the start line and delivered on their pre-race favourite status, posting strong times at the intermediate checks.
Therefore, the Brits’ focus turned to Italy, as they looked to hold on to a bronze medal. The times were close as the Italian men crossed the line, handing over to the women, but then disaster struck in the closing kilometres.
Elisa Longo Borghini, by far the strongest rider of the trio, punctured, with her team car not immediately by her side for a bike change as her two team-mates ploughed on up the road. They then decided not to wait for Longo Borghini, with the Trek-Segafredo rider forced to chase back up on her own, only making the catch with a couple of kilometres remaining.
She immediately took to the front, though, driving the Italians home, but their tactics following the mishap ultimately cost them, as they finished nine seconds down on the Brits. Germany and the Netherlands then came through with quicker times than Britain, as the Netherlands took the first gold of the Championships.
You can watch highlights from team time trial mixed relay below.
The Worlds continue throughout the week, with a number of individual time trial and road races across the various male and female categories, culminating with the elite men’s road race on Sunday September 2019.