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The long-forgotten time when Paris-Roubaix almost died of boredom. Self-discovery on the Silk Road. The man who almost single-handedly invented modern pro cycling. The WorldTour belting round a sleepy French village. The lunatic - or inspired? - men and women of the End to End. And beautiful bikes made of not carbon or steel but . . . grass.
Conquista 26. There is no theme. Deal with it.
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First held in 1938, the Quillan Crit is the oldest criterium in France and possibly the most charming. It has been won by Jacques Anquetil, Raymond Poulidor and Pedro Delgado and hosted many other greats including Bernard Hinault and the two Laurents, Fignon and Jalabert. Augustus Farmer was there to see local racers take on modern-day pros including Nacer Bouhanni and Sylvain Chavanel.
When two burned-out alpha males decided to ride the Silk Road from Shanghai to Istanbul they were looking for a new challenge. They discovered entirely new lives. Shane Stokes tells a story of self-discovery, tragedy, friendship and yak butchery in Chainges.
Paris-Roubaix fell victim to the virus in 2020. We celebrate its return to the calendar in 2021 with a teeth-rattling double dose of cobbles.
Twenty years of post-war prosperity were great for the French economy but less so for Paris-Roubaix, as kilometre after kilometre of pavé disappeared below a tidal wave of smooth tarmac. In 1967 Jacques Goddet demanded the route be reinvigorated. Enter local boy, road world champion and accordion whiz Jean Stablinski, who uncovered miles of undiscovered cobbles including La Trouée d’Arenberg. Suze Clemitson explains how this transformed the race for ever.
Photographer Michael Blann shares his evocative photos of road cycling’s most recognizable landscape in Roubaix: Postcard from a Foreign Field.
Raphaël Géminiani is a cycling polymath. He was a first-rate rider, winning the French national championships and seven Tour stages. He was a great directeur sportif, taking Jacques Anquetil to 4 consecutive Tour wins. But he also pioneered commercial sponsorship with the St-Raphaël apéritif company – a partnership that gave us one of cycling’s immortal jerseys, modelled above by no less a rider than Jacques Anquetil. Pat Harrington picks up the story in Threads of History: St Raphaël.
The history of Algeria is complex and messy, due in no small part to the longstanding insistence by the French that, contrary to the opinion and wishes of the locals, it was actually part of France. So keen were they on this idea that they decided to run a bike race through it. Marcos Pereda explores the extraordinary Tour of Algeria 1949 in Bikes and Deserts.
It’s no secret that cycling attracts more than its fair share of obsessives. And there’s no obsessive like a British obsessive – a fact amply demonstrated by two excellent, but very different, recent books, Dan Bigham’s Start at the End and Paul Jones’s End to End. Matthew Bailey reviews both, and discovers he thoroughly enjoys moving in Eccentric Circles.
Ever wondered about the environmental impact of manufacturing your carbon, aluminium or steel frame? Well, there is an alternative you may not have considered. Learn about the challenge of Building the Ultimate Bamboo Gravel Bike from some of the world’s leading experts, James Marr and Patrick Lundin.
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