Kiwis Hayden Roulston and Jesse Sergent had to settle for fifth in the team time-trial on the opening day of the UCI World Road Cycling Championships in Italy.
Riding for the RadioShack Leopard team, the New Zealanders averaged more than 52kph for the 52km test but were 1:18 behind winners Omega Phama-QuickStep who defended their title in the men's race.
The German-based Specialized-Lululemon also backed up in the women's team time trial.
The Omega Phama-QuickStep team had to draw on all their powers to edge out Orica GreenEdge by just 0.81secs after 52.79km racing on a largely flat course that finished in Florence.
The Australians were the fastest through the final time check but the OPQ lineup, headed by world champion Tony Martin and Sylvain Chavanel, proved more adept through the tight and technical final few kilometres into Florence to pip their rivals.
Martin will now set himself to defend the individual time trial in three days when he will take on the likes of Fabian Cancellara and Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins, who took out the overall honours in the Tour of Britain today.
Meanwhile Team Sky, including Tour de France champion Chris Froome, were third, 22.55s behind.
Lotto Belisol, based around their sprint train group including Kiwi Greg Henderson, were 13th fastest.
The German-based Specialized-Lululemon squad successfully defended the women's team time trial clocking 51mins 10.69secs, which was more than a minute clear of the Rabo squad with Orica-AIS grabbing the final spot on the podium to celebrate a strong day for the Australian team.
The British Wiggle-Honda squad, backed by Sir Bradley Wiggins and including Kiwis Linda Villumsen and Emily Collins, finished in sixth place 2:33 behind the winners.
The focus moves to the individual time trial starting tomorrow with four New Zealand riders in action.
James Oram (Auckland) and Michael Vink (Christchurch) will compete in the under-23 men while Devon Hiley (Auckland) and Madison Campbell (Christchurch) will race in the junior women.
Results, Team Time Trial:
Elite women, Pistoia - Florence, 42.79km: Specialized Lululemon 51:10.69, 1; Rabo Women 52:21.78, 2; Orica AIS 52:44.52, 3. Also: Wiggle Honda 53:43.69, 6.
Elite men, Montecatini Terme - Florence, 56.8km: Omega Pharma Quickstep: 1:04.16.81, 1; Orica GreenEDGE 1:04.17.62, 2; Sky Procycling 1:04.39.36, 3.
Also: Radioshack Leopard 1:05.34.34, 5; Lotto Belisol 1:07.18, 13.
- Fairfax Media
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