World Championships Mixed Relay – What the riders thought
Viviani, Brand, Sutterlin and others have their say on the new format
The 2019 UCI Road World Championships kicked off on Sunday with the novelty of the Team Time Trial Mixed Relay – a mixed-gender format that has replaced the old TTT for trade teams.
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The old TTT was the source of much division, with some teams emphasising the importance to sponsors while others threatened to boycott it, and it seems as though some of that debate has carried over.
"Ah, how can I be politically correct?" joked Jos van Emden when he was asked about the new format in the Dutch team's press conference as the new and first world champions.
A forward-thinking, innovative and exciting concept? Or a gimmick that lacked the prestige usually associated with a World Championships? There are surely arguments to be made on both sides.
With that in mind, we spoke to several of the riders who were competing in Yorkshire to see what they made of it from the heart of the action.
Elia Viviani (Italy)
"I think the TTT for [trade] teams needs to be back on the programme, because it's so nice to see and also for the teams it's really important. But this is a good discipline. It's new, but we saw today it's really exciting, seeing how the men compete and then how the women complete that work. I don't know about the spectacle on TV but, for me inside the race, it worked really well. I think it's nice to have – why not?
"It was the first time. When everyone realises you're still world champions, you're representing your country, and you have the rainbow jersey on the podium… Probably when they see this, they'll realise that next year it's better to focus on it. It's always the same the first time – only a few nations understand how important it is, then the next year it becomes more of a speciality for all the nations. Probably some will try to do specific work for it. I think it's a good discipline."
Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)
"It's different, because there are three riders, instead of six [for the trade TTT], so it's not comparable at all. It was interesting. Maybe for the women it was more of a known than for the men, as we train a bit more together. I enjoyed it.
"The start could be better. There was no light – it wasn't visible. In my opinion, it was green already, but the flag was still up. I wanted to go, but they kept me back, so I waited until the flag went down, so that was a bit unclear. There are always things that aren't clear when it's something new. You need to start somewhere and for sure they'll improve this.
Jasha Sütterlin (Germany)
"It's difficult, because you don't have other races like this. Whereas in Grand Tours we have eight guys, with three you can't save energy, you have to be on the limit from the beginning. There's also a big difference between the men's and women's trios. If you'd made a race just for the men today, we'd have finished fifth, and if you made one for women, we'd have won. It's a bit strange, but I like it."
Daniel Bigham (Great Britain)
"The excitement level was up there with some of the top road races. Historically, time trials are looked upon as the boring part of cycling, but if you can make them quite fun, then why not? Just go with it.
"You had the whole nail-biting experience in the back end. Historically, TTTs have been really long – back in the day the Worlds were 100km – and that means massive splits, but when it's so short, and technical and wet, anything can happen. And it did – the Italians lost Longo Borghini half-way through and it probably cost them a medal."
Jos van Emden (Netherlands)
"Maybe the normal [trade] team time trial can sometimes be a little bit boring to watch. I'm a fan of it, though, so I hope it returns, but this was something new, and we had to try to push hard to be the world champions. That was nice."
Jan Bakelants (Belgium)
"In the end, it was pretty fun. I really liked it. It's good that it has something to do with the women's teams. It's new but it's a shame that they cancelled the trade TTT for it. I think they should have the trade team time trial back because there was a lot in it for the constructors and the teams that really play on innovation. That's lost now, but this format has some quite nice elements.
"I'd open the discussion again about having the trade team time trial or this event, or both. I get the impression that there hadn't really been a discussion before they cancelled the trade event, but I like this new format and I think that we'll see a lot more riders interested in taking part in it."
Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
"Every federation has its own goal, and I don't want to judge. I just think that for us Italians, the team relay means something. The guys and the girls here are committed to it, and we like it. I don't want to judge the other national teams, and everyone has their own opinion about it, and their specific goals.
"I think it's fun. I enjoyed it. There's a bit more adrenalin because you're waiting for the men's team to finish under the finish line. Then you start and then the times are added together. It's nice. It's fun."
Big fan of the mixed team relay. That was brilliant to watch #Yorkshire2019September 22, 2019
Watching the new teams time trial at the @UCI_cycling world championships. Don’t like the new format, think it should be 4 man and 4 woman 50km seperate event. Just my thoughts. Love the teams time trial and it’s just a shame it has been lost.September 22, 2019
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Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.