Great Britain claimed the bronze medal in the team time trial mixed relay at the Road World Championships in Harrogate.
Britain were one of the first teams out and set a good time in wet conditions on the 27.6km course.
But their time was eventually beaten by Germany, and winners the Netherlands.
The event, in which teams consist of three male and three female riders, was being staged at world level for the first time.
The trial consisted of two laps of a tricky and technical course with the men riding the first lap and the women the second, with the time clocked when the second female rider crossed the line.
Britain were not considered one of the favourites for gold but the team of John Archibald, Dan Bigham, Harry Tanfield, Lauren Dolan, Anna Henderson and Joscelin Lowden put the rest under pressure.
When the Italian team were unable to set a better mark, despite the best efforts of Elisa Longo Borghini, who recovered from a puncture and a change of bike to be the first of her team to finish, a medal was guaranteed.
The Netherlands had won this event when it was staged for the first time at the European Championships last month and, with four of that team again present, they produced a strong and controlled performance to beat Germany to gold.
"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, but particularly for Tanfield, who was competing only three weeks after the sudden death of his mother Clare.
"For my family and stuff to come and watch, to come away with a medal is fantastic," the 24-year-old added. "That's why I wanted to do it, for my mum to be proud of me."
1. Netherlands 38mins 27.60secs
2. Germany + 22.75secs
3. Great Britain + 51.27
4. Italy +55.89