Longer Ago Still In Conquista's Beautiful World . . .

SALAMINA MTB - PETROS GKOTSIS
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Every weekend this February, the Greek island of Salamina hosted world class UCI MTB races.  Conquista's man on the spot was Petros Gkotsis, who got some fantastic photos of the action and scenery.  Check out Petros's gallery here, and see more of his fantastic work at his website.  
CONQUISTA 10 IS HERE!
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ORDER YOURS TODAY!
  
Conquista issue 10 is now available to order in glorious, high-definition PRINT, and it’s packed with fabulous, full-colour content . . .  
  • Star writer and long-term Conquista stalwart Shane Stokes looks at the challenges faced by neo-pros embarking upon their race career in Spring: The Dawn of a Pro Career
  • Suze Clemitson reveals tells how the wheels fell off ‘the Armstrong show’ long before he ‘came clean’ in US Postal: Death of a Superteam
  • Holly Blades is a big fan of all those unique “minor”, “second tier” and “semi-classic” races which develop their own unique and sometimes bizarre characters.  In Conquista 10 she takes an inquisitive look at Gent-Wevelgem and asks: what has any of this got to do with ”sour head cheese”?
  • Photographer Brian Hodes travelled to Japan to cover the Keirin GP 2015 exclusively for Conquista.  Issue 10 contains a massive keirin special, including lots of Brian's spectacular shots and an interview with star rider Yutta Nidai.  
  • Jack Chevell, provider of our fabulous cover image, brings us a stunning gallery, and describes his impressions of events in Zolder in a full feature about the 2016 UCI World Cyclo-cross Championships.
  • Conquista has long been a huge fan of the Red Hook Crit Series - the ultimate in bonkers, electric-atmosphere, city-centre racing on fixed-gear, no-brakes track bikes.  In RHC Portraits photographer François Lebeau introduces and interviews the stars of the series that started in Brooklyn and now visits Milan, Barcelona and London every year.
  • How do you combine riding the UCI WorldTour with running a business?  We sit down for a chat with the hardest-working men in pro cycling and Boss Racers, Slovakia’s Martin & Peter Velits - with pictures from star snapper Laura Fletcher
  • Providing a complete change of pace, we have a special feature on Sheila Simpson, audax specialist & Queen of Paris-Brest-Paris, with text and gorgeous photos by Jeremy Abrahams.
  • . . . and finally, Conquista super-sub Tom Owen looks at the emergence of Peruvian track cycling in South American Hustle.  
  ORDER YOURS TODAY!
TOM OWEN - TRACK CYCLING IN PERU
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We bring you our first exclusive preview of issue 10 of Conquista, in the shape of Tom Owen’s article on the recent boom in velodrome racing in Peru.  Yes, Peru.  The magazine will feature a longer version, with lots more pictures, but you can give yourself a taste of what issue 10 will have to offer here.
McNALLY'S BLOG - FROM QATAR TO OMAN
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Conquista’s star signing Mark McNally has had a hectic week.  One minute he’s in the break in the wild winds of Qatar, the next he’s struggling up the steep climbs of Oman - and there’s barely time to crack open the Ambre Solaire.  You can enjoy another insider’s look at life in the heart of the peloton in his latest blog here.  
LAURA FLETCHER - RACING DOWN UNDER
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Friend of Conquista & ace photographer Laura Fletcher of the Peloton Brief was in Australia for the Santos Tour Down Under & the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.  If you are shivering through a northern winter along with us, you may be interested to hear that she has shared some of her pictures with Conquista.  If you could use a little Aussie sunshine in your life, why not take a look at Laura’s gallery here?  
CPA, OR SIMPLY - CBA?
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Last-minute route changes, sprints on bends and between bollards, eyebrow-raising decisions involving Katusha’s history of doping . . . pro cycling has already produced plenty of controversy in 2016.  But the pro riders’ representative body Cyclistes Professionnells Associés has been moved to comment publicly on only one topic: that of electric motors.  Why?  See if you agree with the answers suggested in our latest Polemic, where we ask . . . CPA, or simply - CBA?
QATAR HERO - McNALLY'S BLOG
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This week we park the camel, pitch our tents and boil up a Bedouin brew with unlikely Son of the Desert Mark McNally, who has been negotiating some of the Middle East's most magnificent roundabouts at the Tour of Qatar.  The infamous cross winds hold no fears for our Lionhearted resident of Flanders, and in the latest instalment of his blog he educates us in the esoteric etiquette of the echelon.  Join his masterclass here.  (Stravaphiles can also take a look at Mark's extraordinary efforts on Stage 1 here - check out in particular his average speed and "suffer score".)
BRIAN HODES - KEIRIN GP 2015
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Star photographer Brian Hodes was present at the Keirin Grand Prix 2015 to capture all the action - both on the track and behind the scenes - EXCLUSIVELY for Conquista.  There will be a a major keirin feature in Conquista issue 10, but we can't wait until then to start sharing some of Brian's spectacular images.  Nothing puts colour in your cycling quite like keirin: check out our first Keirin Grand Prix 2015 gallery here.  
SUZE CLEMITSON - FOOTBALL & FANDOM
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Cycling is a team sport - and, as we all know, there is no 'I' in 'Team'!  But, as eagle-eyed readers will have noticed, there is an 'I' in 'Cycling'.  And in 'Sprint'.  And in 'Win'.  Confused?  Fortunately, Conquista has enlisted world-class wordsmith Suze Clemitson to help disentangle pro cycling's many contradictions.  We begin with an explanation of why cycling both is and isn't a team sport, and is therefore nothing like football.  Suze is responsible for some of Conquista's favourite books: P is for Peloton is an indispensable A-Z of cycling; 100 Tours, 100 Tales is packed with stories from a century of the Greatest Race of All; and her most recent book, Ride the Revolution, shines a long-overdue light on some of cycling's shamefully underappreciated female superstars.  So who better to show us the way?  Take a look here.
WHO ARE THE RAPHAPHILES?
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Last week we asked whether Rapha was all just a matter of style.  This week, in the second part of our hard-hitting investigation, we exclusively reveal that the inspiration behind Rapha’s new kit for Team Canyon SRAM was the 1992 Aston Villa goalkeeper’s jersey (see above).  Oh, and we conclude our look at the Rapha phenomenon by asking: who are the Raphaphiles?  Come and find out, and tell us whether you agree.
McNALLY ON UCI WORLD CX! 
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The Belgians are famous for their surrealism (see above), but even Magritte would have struggled to beat the headlines from last weekend’s UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships: "Convicted Parakeet Thieves Deny Mechanical Doping".   But, as they like to say in Flanders: lekker boeiend.  The weekend had all the important stuff too: acres of mud, thousands of fans, swooping overtaking manoeuvres, nail-biting finishes, and even a British rider in the rainbow stripes, in the shape of under-23 World Champion Evie Richards.  Conquista star blogger and Team Wanty-Groupe Gobert professional Mark McNally has sent us a vivid insight into what it was like to be among the rabidly passionate Belgian fans as the legendary Sven Nys bade them farewell and twinkle-toed new hero Wout van Aert picked up his bike and ran away from Lars Van der Haar to win the Elite Men’s jersey.  Check out Mark’s blog here.
TEAM NOVO NORDISK - NAVY SEAL TRAINING CAMP
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Conquista has long had a soft spot for UCI Pro-Continental outfit Team Novo Nordisk, unique for being composed exclusively of diabetics.  TNN does a brilliant job of increasing public awareness & understanding of the disease.  Conquista particularly loves the way the team inspires, educates and empowers young riders by proving that having diabetes is no obstacle to living a full life – or to competing in the world’s toughest sport at the highest levels.  The boys have made a great start to 2016, putting in some excellent performances at the Dubai Tour.  One of the many reasons for their early-season success is their gruelling winter training camp, run by world-famous tough guys, the US Navy Seals.  Expert cycling photographer and longstanding Friend of Conquista Brian Hodes was there to capture the scene.  Check out his shots – some hair-raising, some hilarious – here.
CONQUISTA TAKES TO STRAVA!
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The 2016 season has started in earnest for Conquista.  We’ve been braving the cold and enjoying the sunshine on the roads of Britain.  And we’d like all of you to join us.  So we have created Conquista's very own Strava cycling club.  We’re going to have some fun with this over the months to come, with all sorts of promotions and prizes for the best and, more importantly, most entertaining performances of our Conquistadores de la Carretera in 2016.  To get in on the action go to our Strava page, click “Request to Join” and we’ll hook you up.  See you there!
IS RAPHA ALL ABOUT STYLE?
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Our photo may suggest a straightforward answer.  However, there is a more interesting question: what do our attitudes to the amazingly divisive Rapha phenomenon tell us about ourselves and our sport?  In the attempt to find an answer, only Conquista would enlist the assistance of the Guardian newspaper, the cast of Clueless, a time-triallist in Speedos, and a man dressed as an enormous pair of comedy testicles.  Find out our conclusions in Conquista’s latest Polemic.
CONQUISTA SIGNS McNALLY!
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Throughout the 2016 season, Team Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s Liverpool Lionheart Mark McNally will be blogging for Conquista, bringing us up to speed with life inside the pro peloton.  WGG are a UCI Pro-Continental team who receive a healthy number of wildcard invites to some of the biggest and best bike races in the world.  Each week Mark will bring you a little insight into the highs and lows of being a young rider trying to make it to the top level of professional cycling.  This week - "Back To Reality" tells of Mark's shock on returning to a "normal people" life in Belgium after spending time with all his teammates at their first collective training camp in Alicante, Spain.
REVOLUTION SERIES - ROUND 6
Conquista was back at Manchester's National Cycling Centre on 23rd January for the final round of this year's Revolution Series.  Jon Dibben and Owain Doull of Team Wiggins won the overall series, while Dutch legend Theo Bos held off the challenge of budding stars including the UK's Matt Rotherham and Lewis Oliva to win both the UCI's Sprint and Keirin competitions.  Sprinkling a little additional stardust on the evening's events were Laura Trott, who put in a typically regal performance in lapping the field three times to win the Points Race, and Team Sky's Vasil Kiryienka, looking lean, mean and ready for the new season.  Take a look at our gallery.
 
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HAIR TODAY - GONE TOMORROW?
In previous Polemics, we have taken on such trivial subjects as the dire state of pro cycling’s TV coverage and finances, and the logic of jailing dopers.  This week we address a much more serious topic, one which has dominated the cycling headlines, and which will only become more pressing as the temperature rises and the kneewarmers come off.  We are speaking, of course, about Peter Sagan’s early-season hairy legs. Come and disagree with us!
CLASSICS TRAINING . . . IN THE CLASSICAL WORLD

In recent years 2011 Paris-Roubaix winner and perennial powerhouse of AG2R-La Mondiale Johan van Summeren has made a habit of racking up his winter training miles in Greece. This year he was joined by newly-signed Team Sky hopeful Alex Peters, who recently transferred from the Dutch development squad SEG Racing.

The seasoned pro and the young talent were brought together by Vasilis Anastopoulos, performance coach of SEG Racing and personal trainer to many high level pros like JVS. The two WorldTour Riders were based in Loutraki, a seaside resort on the Gulf of Corinth, lying just 80km south of Athens. Its mild winter weather, relaxed environment and amazing variety of terrain make this little-known region something of a haven for pros seeking a training location away from the usual hotspots of the Med.

 Photographer Petros Gkotsis was there to capture some shots exclusively for Conquista. Take a look at our gallery.

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To see some more of Petros's wonderful images, pay a visit to his website, and keep track of what he's up to via his Facebook page

CONQUISTA T-SHIRTS

Conquista t-shirts are back! 100% cotton, in the black-and-white “baseball” style you’ve come to know and love, expertly modelled for us by @DabberMatt in the photo below. Smart enough for every occasion; cool in summer, warm in winter; and best of all, available now at the bargain price of just £20, only in the Conquista shop.

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TEAM WANTY-GROUPE GOBERT

Conquista Editor-at-Large Trevor Gornall has been spending this week with Team Wanty-Groupe Gobert at their pre-season training camp in sunny Benidorm, Spain.  The lucky so-and-so.  At least he took his camera, and managed to get some shots of the team, looking super smart in their freshly-delivered kit from new sponsor Kalas.  Have a look at Conquista’s exclusive gallery.  

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POLEMICS

Some things about cycling really rouse Conquista's passions.  We've decided to tell the world in our new Polemics Blog, to see whether anyone agrees with us.  We'd love to know whether you do or not.

First up . . . many people think the economic model of professional road cycling is unsustainable.  At the same time, Conquista thinks current TV coverage of cycling is hopelessly outdated.  Can both problems be solved at a stroke?  We think so.  See if you agree.

For our second Polemic, we have something a bit different, and possibly even more controversial: a little thought experiment exploring the new German law which allows for the jailing of convicted dopers. Don’t be shy now: let us know what you think . . .

UKCX NATIONALS

Conquista travelled to sunny Shrewsbury to cheer Nikki Harris all the way to a fantastic first place in the UK National Cyclo-Cross Championships.  We even took our camera.  Check out our gallery . . .

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And while you're at it, why not have a read of our long interview with Nikki from 2013?

 REVOLUTION SERIES - MANCHESTER

Conquista was at the National Cycling Centre on January 2nd, 2016, to see Mark Cavendish launch his attempt to win Olympic Gold in the Omnium at Rio 2016.  First, of course, he needs to get selected for the team.  His performance here - 3rd fastest flying lap, 2nd in the Madison and an impressive 1st in the Madison Elimination Race - won't do his prospects any harm.   

Despite the many other star riders appearing (including Owain Doull, Jon Dibben, Katie Archibald, Elia Viviani & Pete Kennaugh), performance of the night came from the peerless Laura Trott, who won three out of her four races. 

Have a look at our gallery  . . .   

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