CS Grupetto

We are a little bit different to most clubs in that we\'re primarily a group of friends who socialise off the bike, but we happen to share a common interest in cycling and cyclesport. We are based in Putney and have regular weekend rides out to Windsor and the Surrey Hills, as well as occasional trips elsewhere.

We have a wide variety of cycling interests amongst club members, from track riding to road racing, and sportives to bike polo. Several of our members have their race licences, and we\'re represented in every category including Elite

We regularly travel further afield to enjoy some of the classic races – this year quite a few of us have ridden the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix sportives, and then watched the pros follow our tyre tracks. We also try and get to see the Ghent and Berlin six day track events.

At the core of the club ethos is a desire to enjoy good rides with good friends.

CLUB NEWS

Duo Normande 2011

Strong riding by CS Grupetto at the Duo Normande 2011

CS Grupetto

words and pictures by illy

We entered the Duo Normande after a summer of road and track racing and deciding that we could do with a change.  Not having had much time trial experience it was something of an unknown, but looked like a fun event in Normandy.  The list of past riders in the Elite event reads like a cycling hall of fame, Chris Boardman, Jens Voight, Bradley Wiggins, Nicolas Hutchings – the list goes on!

We set off on the Eurotunnel early Saturday morning and met up with teammate Nic at our chateaux near Marigny in the afternoon.  The weather was inclement, wet and windy as we drove towards the course to do a practice lap.  We got changed in a car park next to the FDJ team bus and headed out into the wind and rain.

The course is 54km long, comprising of a big loop followed by a smaller out-and-back section.  The first 30km are flatish but windy, and the final 20km are pretty up-and-down.

Off we set on the practice run, and within about 10 minutes were soaked to the skin.  The wind was pretty noticeable, and at times was a full on head wind which made riding difficult and a bit miserable.

After changing we went to the sign-on tent and picked up our numbers, including most importantly the banner for our car: “Team 163, CS Grupetto”.

After a dinner of foie gras, oysters, steak and a couple bottles of red wine we were fully prepared for the race the next day so retired to bed before an early start and a breakfast of cereal, coffee and French pastries.

The weather took a turn for the worse and was absolutely bucketing down as we drove to the start line.  The clouds would break and the sun would come out for five minutes before bucketing it down again.  We got changed into our skin suits and began to warm up a bit, but it was pretty miserable and cold and our numbers were already torn and hanging off by the time we got to the start line.

Climbing onto the start ramp we got ‘talked up’ by the maître’d and then 5-4-3-2-1, we set off down the start ramp and up the climb out of town.  We were off to a strong start with our support car following behind beeping and shouting encouragement.

We settled into a good rhythm and after only 2km saw the team which had set off 2-minutes before us in the distance.  This inspired me and I began to ride hard on the front.  As we passed them the next team were only about another 100m up the road so we sailed past them also.  We were on for a flyer!

We ticked off each of the 1km markers; these were sponsored by various local companies and some were sponsored by LCL bank – it was just like riding a time trial in the Tour!

We rode pretty well as the course changed direction and were flying along pretty comfortable between 40 and 45kph.  At about 10km we saw another team which boosted our morale and we rode past to much support and beeping from the team car.

We turned into a straight side wind (the sort of thing which would inspire talk of ‘echelon racing’ on Eurosport), and suddenly realised why we’d been going so fast previously – we’d had a tail wind!

At about the 30km mark, to much cheering and applause from our support car we caught another team riding nice pink Pinarellos.  So far we’d passed five teams, no one had caught us and I began to think we could win!

It was about the 30km mark that the road began to get a bit more ‘sporting’, going up and down.  I tried to ease off on the uphill so Estelle could hold my wheel and make up time on the flats.   We passed a family having a picnic in their garden cheering on the riders which felt pretty pro.

The hills seemed to go on and on, and the downhill sections were dangerous and slippy in the wet so we didn’t push too hard on the corners.  After 40km we were back in the start town of Marigny where we rode hard out of the corner and up the hill towards the hairpin at 50km.

We seemed to be going pretty quickly up this hill and saw some of the teams in front of us who were coming back in the opposite direction in their final few kms.  I began to try and work out how far ahead of us they might be and whether we might still be able to win, despite going a bit slower on some of the hills.

Soon, we were at the hairpin and sprinted out of it into a straight headwind. Chris McNamara had got out of the car just before the hairpin to give us some more support from the roadside.  Finally we were at the ‘Arrivé 1000m’ point and I gave it my all to the line.

We came in at 1:28:21, which placed us 4th; some four minutes and two seconds behind the winner.

This was a pleasing result considering we were on road bikes, and gives us the podium to aim for next year!

We didn’t have long after finishing to get changed in the rain storm and drive the support car for our team mates who put in a blistering ride.  The crowd could hardly believe what they saw as they took a minute and a half out of FDJ and finished only seven minutes behind the winner of the Elite category – none other than Johan van Summeren.

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