The Netherlands claimed victory in the inaugural mixed team time trial on Wednesday, as the new format was debuted at the European Championships.
The home nation stormed the event on home soil in Alkmaar, with both their men's and women's trios setting the fastest respective times on the flat but windy course.
Germany placed second and Italy third, while Belgium and France just missed out on the medals in the eight-team event.
The new format, which replaces the trade team time trials and will form part of the World Championships next month, saw each nation send three men around the 22.4km course, followed by three women. The women started when the second man crossed the finish line at the handover point, and the total team time was taken when the second woman crossed the line.
The Netherlands clocked 52:49 in total, and faced fierce competition from a German side who were strong on both legs and finished just 14 seconds down. In the end, it was something of a two-horse race, with a gulf of 1:24 to third-placed Italy. Belgium and France finished 2:22 and 2:25 down, respectively.
Bauke Mollema, Ramon Sinkeldam, and Koen Bouwman led the Dutch out, and they had the fastest time at the half-way point of the circuit, where there was a strong tailwind that would turn into a cross-headwind for the run back to town. They remained as a three until Sinkeldam peeled off with a kilometre to go and hit the line on 25:07, giving the cue for Floortje Mackaij, Amy Pieters and Riejanne Markus to set off. The trio rotated smoothly and stuck together all the way to the line, where they just had to wait for the German trio to come home before the celebrations could begin.
"It's super nice, especially in our home country," said Mollema. "It was a big team performance and to finish it off together, with the six of us and all the staff behind us is really nice.
Mackaij added: "It was a special feeling to race with the guys. I really liked it and hope to race it again in the future. For us it was really nice to race in the Netherlands. There were so many people along the roads, cheering. To race together with the guys was special and to finish it off with the win is incredible."
Germany were the joint second best of the men, tied with Italy at 13 seconds from the Netherlands. They lost Marco Mathis not long after the half-way point but Jasha Sutterlin and Justin Wolf rode strongly home. From there, a strong women’s trio of Lisa Brennauer, Lisa Klein and Mieke Kroger combined all the way to the line to go just one second slower than the Dutch trio and take the silver medals.
Italy claimed a medal despite losing riders early on both legs. Manuele Boaro fell away on the second half of the first lap, leaving Davide Martinelli and Edoardo Affini to dig deep to keep within touching distance. Things fell apart on the women's leg, however, as Silvia Valsecchi struggled to hold the pace set by Elisa Longo Borghini and Vittoria Guazzini. They appeared to slow to allow her back on around the half-way point and paid the price. She was dropped for good several kilometres from home and they ended up losing more than a minute to the Netherlands on that leg.
Belgium had a disappointing race on both sides. Lawrence Naesen was dropped before the half-way mark of the men's leg, and in the home straight Thomas De Gendt was unable to hold the wheel of Otto Vergaerde, who was a late replacement for Jonas Rickaert. They were just shy of a minute down on the Netherlands at the handover and despite boasting one of the strongest trios in Sanne Cant, Lotte Kopecky, and Sofie De Vuyst, they ceded a further 1:10 to the Dutch.
France, meanwhile, had a solid men's leg – fourth at 28 seconds with Corentin Ermenault, Damien Gaudin, and Dorian Godon - but struggled on the women’s leg when Eugenie Duval was dropped on the exposed middle section. Coralie Demay and Pascale Jeuland took it home but ended up being pipped by two seconds by Belgium.
There was another gulf to the three remaining nations, who were the early starters. Russia clocked 56:58 to place sixth, and the Czech Republic - who were only a second down on Belgium until their women lost ground - placed seventh on 57:19. Slovakia, having started first, finished last on 59:17.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|Elisa Longo Borghini|
|Thomas De Gendt|
|Sofie De Vuyst|