Conquista 25 - Digital Download

Conquista Cycling Club

Empty roads, waiting patiently for the riders’ return. Pros training on Zwift or stranded in Girona. Political and financial scandal. Death (of British road racing) and resurrection (of a legendary Italian velodrome). Another year when everything changed. The last ever Postcard from Tom. And a lot of wiping.

Conquista 25: the Covid issue. Also available in print here.


With its 84 hairpin bends – one of which graces our cover – the Passo dello Stelvio is a marvel of Italian engineering and a symbol of the Giro d’Italia. Michael Blann lays out its history and rises spectacularly to the challenge of capturing the world’s most-photographed road.


Along with everything else, in early 2020, with the season barely underway, professional cycling was put on hold. With no idea when – or indeed if – the action would re-start, how did the riders stay motivated? How did they train while staying safe? Shane Stokes spoke to Eddie Dunbar, Sam Bennett and Nicolas Roche about Coping with Covid-19.


In recent years Britain’s cyclists have had astonishing international success, winning seemingly endless Grand Tours and World Championships. Yet at a national level the sport struggles from crisis to crisis, as teams and events wink out of existence. Kit Nicholson asks whether we are seeing The Death of Domestic Racing.


Occasionally a rider comes along whose talents push back the very boundaries of cycling science. Professor Tom Owen fires up the Conquista particle accelerator and goes in search of Sergio Higuita’s Dark Matter.


2019’s Pure Peak Grit ride – 610 km in length and with 13,600 m of climbing, all within 48 hours – was tackled by ten fearless female riders, including Alaina Beacall. She tells the story, straight from the saddle.


With Hinault out injured, Delgado and Fignon each making his debut, the Colombians featuring for the first time (and blowing the peloton to pieces on every climb) the 1983 Tour turned everything on its head. Marcos Pereda recalls The Year That Changed Everything.


With the massive tailwinds of the Armstrong Effect, a photo-friendly but punishing parcours, a star-studded field (including Lance himself) and big-name corporate sponsors the San Francisco Grand Prix was on its way to being the biggest race in North America – until it collapsed amid accusations of political meddling and financial misbehaviour. Suze Clemitson picks through the ruins.


When he decided to get a bike, get fit and support good causes, Rob Williams knew he was taking on a challenge. It turned out to be harder still in a country where there is no concept of a sponsored event. Yet Rob and the rest of the Knights in White Lycra have raised over half a million pounds for children’s charities in Japan. Susan Karen Burton tells their extraordinary story.


Remember when artisans in aprons hand-built magnificent steel Masi frames in the bowels of the legendary Vigorelli velodrome while the Italian national team trained overhead? Well, now it’s all happening again. No, really. Russell Jones goes back to the future to visit The Monument and the Guardian.


Laura Fletcher and Nathan Haas deliver their Seasonal Briefings from Girona – where they are stranded with half the pro peloton, their pet cat and a crap Christmas tree – and explain how the Catalan tradition of ‘Caga Tió’ (Uncle Poop) brings a whole new meaning to the Yuletide Log.


And finally . . . also from locked-down Girona, Tom Owen sends us absolutely his very last Postcard ever.