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Conquista #23

Fighting racism in British cycling. Tackling sexism at the Tour. Riding from Scotland’s north to England’s south to learn how we, the two nations, see ourselves and each other. Telling the story of a life in bicycles. Supporting the fabulous racing culture of Sierra Leone. Revisiting a childhood in  South Africa. And, of course, dropping in at the Bum Clinic.

Conquista 23. Living up to our motto: ‘You don’t get THIS in Cycling Weekly’.

Many visitors to ‘The Big Velo Fete’ at Herne Hill Velodrome were drawn there by the promise of seeing the great Sir Bradley Wiggins in the flesh. But Wiggo wasn’t there to talk about the Olympics, Team Sky or the Tour de France. He attended at the invitation of Dr. Marlon Moncrieffe, an academic and researcher who has created a unique exhibition, presented at the Fete, which showcases a number of underappreciated Black British cyclists – including Russell Williams (above), who Wiggins describes as “my role model. A great man with a great heart.”

In Conquista 23 Dr. Moncrieffe tells the story of his exhibition and the great Black British Champions in Cycling who feature in it.

Speaking of Wiggo, here’s a familiar trick question: who was the first British rider to win the Tour de France? If your answer begins ‘Sir . . ‘ you can expect short shrift from followers of the women’s sport, who will point out – correctly – that Nicole Cooke won the women’s race in 2006 and 2007. But that name isn’t the right answer either.

Something like a women’s Tour de France ran every year from 1984 until 2009. But even followers of the sport might be surprised to know that a single edition of the race was held almost thirty years previously . . . and might be more surprised still to learn that it was won by a Brit (OK, a Manxwoman).

Marcos Pereda peers back through the mists of history to the great Millie Robinson’s victory at – and indeed the full untold story of – The 1955 Tour de France Féminin: An (Almost) Forgotten Experiment.