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Conquista #17

We dig deep into the hidden history of the UCI Road World Championships. We ponder the future of the Red Hook Crit. We empty ourselves at the UK National Hill Climb Championships. We wander far and wide across Europe, from the gravelly slopes of Italy's Colle del Colombardo to the stark efficiencies of Austria's Kühtai Saddle. We mourn the loss of our faith in St. Lance. And our editor’s mate pukes all over his shoes.

Conquista issue 17. You’ll need an extra puff on your puffer to get over it.

Combining breath-taking racing action with a unique festival atmosphere, and nowadays attracting some of the finest athletes in the sport, the Red Hook Crit stands on the verge of global success. But what happens when the fun gets serious? Tom Owen asks what the future holds for this unique phenomenon in Too Bad, Too Sad: The Changing Face of Red Hook Crit.

Uniquely itinerant and so changing in character from year to year . . . ridden in national rather than trade teams . . . usually combining a cross-country element with city-centre circuit racing . . . the UCI Road World Championships is not like other bike races. And unlike the Tour, the Giro, Paris-Roubaix, and all cycling’s other great races, the Worlds has not spawned a significant body of literature. Yet in the quality of its racing and its stories it is second to none. Who better than Suze Clemitson to dig deep and reveal the secrets of World History?

Few men have placed in the top ten at the Worlds. Fewer still have filled their bibshorts at the same event. Holly Blades is married to one of them, and provides a characteristically unusual account of the conquistadores of the Worlds (with help from Mr. Blades, otherwise known as Matt Stephens) in Number Twos and Coming Eighth.

A two-up time trial on the roads of Normandy, the Duo Normand offers categories from professionals (for whom it is categorised 1.1 by the UCI) all the way down to third cats and juniors. Fulfilling a long-held ambition, this year Damien Field sent off his entry, roping in Conquista editor Trevor Gornall to join him on the start line. As tends to be the way when the big fella busts out the Conquista skinsuit, things did not go entirely according to plan. Read Damo’s account of their grand day out in Two Hundred Beats Per Minute.

Boasting a glittering history with participants from Tom Simpson to Chris Boardman, courses that touch 20% in gradient, immense crowds and a lot of gurning, nothing boils bike racing down to its essence like the British National Hill Climb Championships. Matthew Bailey tells the tale, with photography by Matt Grayson.

Chris Auld has rapidly become one of the best, and best-known photographers in the world of cycling. In Conquista 17 we bring you two galleries of his shots from the world of cyclo-cross: the first from Belgium’s famous Koksijde, and the other from the less celebrated but spectacular seaside setting of Bogense in Denmark.

The Torino-Nice Rally is an unsupported point-to-point bikepacking ride between those two contrasting cities, covering 700km on tarmac and gravel and reaching altitudes above 1500m. This year’s second edition attracted 135 riders, among them Peta McSharry, who tells us all about her liberating (and occasionally rather scary) adventures.

Everyone knows the story of ANC-Halfords at the 1987 Tour, vividly told in Jeff Connor's Wide-Eyed And Legless, one of the great cycling books. But whatever became of those likely lads? Russell Jones completes his enthralling series of conversations with former members of the team in Ups and Downs: Adrian Timmis.

Elsewhere, of course, you’ll find the latest Briefings (from Girona and elsewhere) from our friends at The Peloton Brief and Tom Owen sends us a Postcard from Kühtai, in Austria.