GREAT Britain celebrated bronze as the opening race of the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire delivered a medal for the host nation in Harrogate.

The British sextet of Dan Bigham, John Archibald, Harry Tanfield, Anna Henderson, Lauren Dolan and Joss Lowden were able to crowd on to the bottom step of the podium as the Dutch took gold ahead of Germany in the team time trial mixed relay.

Britain knew they were likely to be in a battle with Italy to take bronze, and snatched it by just four seconds after Italy's race was wrecked by a puncture for Elisa Longo Borghini, the strongest rider in their women's team.

"We never anticipated getting a medal," Tanfield said. "From the start we knew it could be close, but, with the teams Italy, Germany and the Netherlands have, we knew they were going to be super strong."

Britain's bronze brought emotional celebrations from the entire team in front of a soggy but enthusiastic crowd, but particularly for Tanfield, who was competing only three weeks after the sudden death of his mum Clare.

"For my family and stuff to come and watch, to come away with a medal is fantastic," the 24-year-old said. "That's why I wanted to do it, for my mum to be proud of me."

The event, new to the world championships in place of the trade team time trial, saw teams of three male riders tackle the 14km course around Harrogate, with the women setting off in relay once the second man had crossed the line.

Britain endured a long, tense afternoon in the hot seat after setting the fastest time from the first wave of teams to take to roads dampened by heavy downpours in the morning, and remained top of the time sheets after the second wave of four teams completed their runs.

Italy, Germany and Holland were all that remained, but the odds were still against Britain until Borghini punctured on the short but testing climb on Penny Pot Lane.

Italy had been 14 seconds up on GB's pace at the time, but, as Borghini battled to catch her team-mates after a bike change, that advantage disappeared and they crossed the line just four seconds off the podium.

"It's a really tricky one," said Lowden. "Obviously we want to wi, but you don't want to see people fail. What an amazing ride to get back on. She deserved a medal for that really."

With the event new to the world championships it had been difficult to predict who might come out on top.

But once the Dutch had named a squad including Bauke Mollema, Jos Van Emden, Lucinda Brand and Amy Pieters, they were immediately installed as favourites and duly delivered, winning in a time of 38 minutes 27.60 seconds, 22.75 seconds ahead of Germany and 51.27 seconds ahead of Britain.

"We like it of course, because we won," Mollema said of the format.

"The UCI I read are thinking about making (it) for the Olympics 2024 and of course that will be a big step for this event, then there will be more countries focusing on it.

"I think it is nice, it is something different, something new. We have to give if a few years to see what it brings."