The Italian team finished fourth in the inaugural team time trial mixed relay, missing out on a bronze medal by just a handful of seconds. A team comprised of Elia Viviani, Davide Martinelli, Edoardo Affini, Elena Cecchini, Tatiana Guderzo and Longo Borghini were in contention for the bronze medal, but a puncture for Longo Borghini in the second half of the race ended their hopes. The race was won by pre-race favourites the Netherlands, with Germany and Great Britain completing the podium.
Despite her puncture down to no more than bad luck, Longo Borghini took the blame for Italy’s disappointment.
"It wasn’t anything special. No aliens or helicopters crashing into me. It was just a flat at the worst moment, just on a really steep part after the bridge. I had to have a bike change and then I basically had to do an individual pursuit,” she told Cyclingnews at the finish in Harrogate.
Longo Borghini chased back to her two teammates after her bike change and put in a considerable effort to close the gap before the finish. On the final climb to the line in Harrogate the duo of Longo Borghini and Guderzo finished strongly, but it wasn’t enough to overturn the time loss from the earlier puncture and subsequent bike change.
"I had something left because I managed to do the final. I felt really strong today, but I want to apologise to my national team for the flat because today the men did a great job and we were doing a very good effort but I feel for my teammates like I left them alone. I feel like a black sheep today. I would have just liked to have been with the other two and done a good time."
Longo Borghini also backed her teammates after they initially pushed on without her.
"At the very first moment they had to go because there was no other choice, but in the last couple of kilometers they waited for me. It was up to me to try and come back, though, and I think that was the smartest decision.”
The mixed relay was a controversial addition at the World Championships after it replaced the trade team time trial this year. The inaugural mixed event saw a disappointing number of participants, with only 10 nations fielding teams and the UCI propping up the competition with a team from their UCI World Cycling Centre. A number of the nations that did take part didn’t send their strongest teams, but Italy bucked that trend with a strong and balanced line-up. According to Longo Borghini, sending a competitive team it was an important statement of intent. At the same time, Longo Borghini respectfully chose not to criticise other nations for not following Italy’s example.
"You’re proud to wear the national jersey, and you always want to show how strong your nation is. I feel for my nation because of the bad luck that I had. Who knows what position I could have had if I hadn’t had the flat.
"Every federation has its own goal, and I don’t want to judge. I just think that for us Italian 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 as about it and their specific goals.
"I think it’s fun. I enjoy 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 summed up. It’s nice. It’s fun."
Longo Borghini will compete in both the women’s individual time trial and the road race later in the week.