The greatest race of them all. The most amazing feat in the sport’s history. Absolutely the optimal way to start a Grand Tour. Teammates from the top drawer. South America’s cycling demigods. The fastest man across Europe from North to South. England’s finest climb, bar none.
This is no time for false modesty. Conquista 22: indisputably the greatest thing in the history of all time.
In issue 21 we wrote about the history of the Derny, the unique two-stroke motor-pacer. We briefly explained its role in the mighty Bordeaux-Paris, one of cycling’s oldest and greatest races. And then we remembered our motto: if you want something doing properly, get Suze to do it.
Bordeaux-Paris is cycling’s Moby Dick: massive, ancient, near-mythical and liable to bite the unwary off at the knees. Suze Clemitson is its Ishmael, unravelling its many incomparable tales. With illustrations by Sam Hinton (who also provides our cover).
This year’s Giro started with an explosive time trial around the spectacular streets of Bologna. Chris Lanaway was there with his camera and tells the story of the day.
But here’s a thing: when is a prologue not a prologue? When it’s Stage 1, of course. But why are some short time trials at the start of Grand Tours prologues and others not? Matthew Bailey cracks open the rule and history books in search of an answer.
It’s easy to evaluate and compare the performance of cycling’s champions. How many victories? How many jerseys? But what about the sport’s water-carriers – the domestiques? They are invariably lauded for their efforts and assistance by their victorious team leaders – but how can we tell whether they deserve it?
Who better to address this than statistical supremo (and star of pro cycling’s almanack The Road Book) Cillian Kelly?
Before there was Egan Bernal, before Nairo and Rigo, there were Ramón Hoyos and Martin Emilio ‘Cochise’ Rodriguez – the Fathers of Colombian Cycling. Marcos Pereda tells a tale about bitter poets, Nobel laureates and two legendary champions in the land of magical realism.
Every week Mitchell Belacone heads for his local velodrome in Buenos Aires. And every week, though no slouch himself, he has his lunch musette handed to him by a bunch of superficially superannuated hard-nuts. Thanks to Conquista you too can get to know his tormentors, The Bathers in Buenos Aires’ Fountain of Youth.
Dr Ian Walker is an environmental psychologist who has written in-depth studies of why we drive cars and of the behaviour of drivers overtaking bicycles. He’s also an endurance cyclist and winner of the 2018 North Cape 4000. This summer saw Ian return to the northernmost tip of Norway to begin a new challenge: an attempt at the world record for crossing Europe north to south by bike.
Fergus Coyle caught up with Ian in his home town of Bristol to talk about bad drivers, cycling and breaking records.
Jack Swart is one of the all-time greats of New Zealand road racing. His many triumphs in stage races saw him bafflingly pigeonholed by the national selectors, meaning he missed out on many one-day opportunities, including the chance of Olympic gold. But that wasn’t the only source of frustration in his career.
Russell Jones tells the full story in Casquette.
Matt Brammeier is an original Conquistador. Partly because we last interviewed him in the near-mythical Conquista 1. But mostly because he has repeatedly overcome the greatest of challenges – including possibly the worst crash ever seen in the UCI WorldTour – to build a career at the highest level of the sport.
Now Matt is lead academy coach with the Great Britain Cycling Team men’s endurance programme. Conquista Editor Trevor Gornall caught up with Matt at this year’s Tour de Yorkshire to ride in the team car and learn all about GB’s stars of the future in From The Other Side Of The Fence.
Elsewhere, Tom Owen brings us a Postcard from the Peak, which includes an exclusive reveal of England's finest climb, and The Peloton Brief fills us in on goings-on in Girona.