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Is the mixed team relay good and should it be an Olympic event? We ask the riders

The mixed team relay got its second outing at the worlds in Flanders on Wednesday. It got a resounding thumbs up from the pros, who say it's harder than a traditional TTT.

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BRUGES, Belgium (VN) — The mixed team relay, should it stay or should it go?

The mixed-gender event made its second appearance at a world championships Wednesday.

First contested at the 2019 European championships, the mixed team relay had its worlds debut in 2019. It features a squad of three men and three women, with the men setting the early time and the women finishing the event off.

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In Flanders, a thrilling contest was delivered with Germany giving the retiring Tony Martin a perfect send-off by taking gold. The Netherlands and Italy rounded out the podium places.

For now, the event remains a quirk of these two multinational events. Should it stick around, is it good and should it be an Olympic event?

We asked the riders at the finish line Wednesday.

https://twitter.com/UCI_cycling/status/1440936656505384963?s=20

Neilson Powless (USA)

“I think it’s great and they should have it every year. I think that it’s something in the future I hope that our country and other countries can place a bit more importance on. This is the first time that we’ve put a team together for it, so it was a pleasure to be a part of it.

“Cycling can often feel like an individual sport, even though you are riding as a team. Also, the men’s and women’s teams are normally pretty separated and this event really feels like a team effort because you’re just bouncing your energy off the guys next to you in the rotation and the three of us were all pretty equal. You felt that if you took a shorter pull then one guy would take a longer pull and you’re just trying to gauge how much energy the other guys have. It really felt like a team effort. Also, the extra element of having another team going with the women, it was a cool way to bring it together.”

Should it be in the Olympics?

“I think it definitely could be. It would be a really awesome event. I think it’s a great idea.”

Magnus Cort (Denmark)

“It is fun but I don’t know what to think. I also like doing team time trials but is a bit strange being dependent on a team you have no influence on. I know they have been trying different things with the national teams. I think it would be nice at the worlds to maybe still be with the national team time trials, like in the old days. I thought that was a very nice event, obviously, I’ve never done it. It has a lot of history and for sure that would have been very nice to try. It would also be very hard, I’ve heard a lot of stories about the 100-kilometer events.”

Should it be in the Olympics?

“Of course, it’s always nice to have more cycling events. We don’t have many medals in cycling compared to other sports so it would be nice to have some more events. That would be nice, for sure.”

Coryn Rivera (USA)

“It’s a team time trial, so it is pretty honest. You give it your all and it is what it is. It’s interesting because you’re not really close with the guys so it’s not a full team thing and you can’t really strategize with them. It’s really close with the three girls or guys that you ride with and any fluctuation in the speed with three is pretty rough, so I think it’s interesting. It’s also cool to have the male and female concept of racing.

“I’ve done team time trials and now I’ve done a team relay. If you win either, you don’t get to wear the rainbow stripes. If it is something that can be repeated, and you can wear the stripes then that will be really cool. Maybe if it was also an Olympic event there would be more behind it and preparation and investment into it.”

Should it be in the Olympics?

“Yeah, I think it would be cool. It would be another event for cycling and also it would help with gender equality. Also, being one team whether you’re male or female and representing your country would be cool.”

Alex Dowsett (Great Britain)

“I think it’s fantastic. I think cycling is a sport with a lot of tradition and a lot of that should stay but I also think cycling can be very archaic and stuck in the past and some of the bad things that are associated with that. One of those things is gender inequality and a lot of other sports have mixed events. Obviously, we had this in Harrogate (in 2019), and it was a big success. Certainly, switching the events around to have the individual time trials early on supports a higher caliber of riders to do this event. I think with the higher caliber of riders you see much more credibility to the event.

“It’s not a team time trial and that is the challenge, it’s a three-up. The turns are longer, the recovery is shorter. The turns have slightly less power but not much. It’s just harder and certainly on a course like this where there is not a lot going on the whole way and there are stretches of just being on the gas and it makes it very tough. You have to be very careful because if you burn up a rider early on it’s a big difference between losing a third of your team and losing a seventh.”

Should it be in the Olympics?

“I would like to see it in the Olympic Games. I think cycling as a sport is underrepresented as a sport in the Olympic Games and I’ve always made my opinions quite clear on the flaws around the individual time trialists having to come from the road race team. It’s like asking Usain Bolt to do the 1,500m as well as the 100 and 200. If you look at the number of events that swimming has, including mixed events, why should that be the case in cycling? I absolutely think this should be in the Olympics. If they’re not going to change anything else, this should be added. If we’re talking about equality, then the mixed event should be included.”