(Reuters) - Men and women cyclists will join forces in a new event being introduced at next year's Road World Championships in Britain as part of a move by the sport's governing body (UCI) to "encourage gender equality".
The event, called the team time-trial mixed relay, will be contested by national teams consisting of three men and three women, and replaces the trade team time-trial featuring professional outfits.
The mixed relay will be run over two laps of a 14 km Harrogate circuit in Yorkshire, with the men riding the first loop.
The women will set off once the second rider in the men's team crosses the line, with the final time being taken when the second female rider finishes.
The team with the overall quickest time wins the race.
"The Championships will be taking place less than a year out from the Olympic Games, with riders seeking to earn precious qualification points for Tokyo 2020," UCI president David Lappartient was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"I cannot wait to witness this first-ever race, which is part of the UCI's drive to further increase the attractiveness of our Road World Championships, encourage gender equality, and showcase National Federations and their riders."
The 2019 Road World Championships, being held from Sept. 21-29, will also include para-cycling for the first time.
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien)