Duonormand - TT fun in France
Aging tester Martin Brown and pointy wannabe Neil McInerney opted for a UCI event in France to finish off the season. The Duonormand has been running for the last 32 years and is a 54km 2Up TT over closed roads in northern Normandy near Saint Lo.
The Frenchies welcome the roast beefs with a great website and easy entry - although you do have to send them a sterling cheque for £35 (that's for the two riders). But any questions and Mme Hommet-Lelievre is straight back with an answer.
Accommodation was a bit of a ropey 2 star by a roundabout but we saw plenty of room for improvement with local Gites if we can make this a club outing in 2014. There are categories for Vets, Ladies, Mixte (M/F and vet/senior), elites (in case anyone has joined a pro team). This year there were riders from Orica GreenEdge, Omega Pharma QuickStep (Cav's lot), Sojasun and IG Sigma Sport. 18 Elite teams in total. 400 teams in all categories.
Eurotunnel dropped us in Calais at 8.00 and we were in a cafe at 12.00 in Marigny the start town. A slow recce of the course was suitable warning of what was to come. A flattish 28km and then a very lumpy final 26km with some quick descents. We decided on non-aero clinchers for the race. Although we could have a support car following us with spare wheels (and shouting suitable encouragement and/or abuse!) we didn't have another domestique. However next year with a few teams I think we can organise this so we can use full on aero wheels with tubs and the support car would carry spare wheels/bike for each team.
With 400 teams this was an all day event with first rider off at 8.00. We had a leisurely 11.23 start and were able to catch up with teams from the Old Ports, VeloRefined and Big Foot. We also met up with Bronwen Ewing (A Colvini favourite) and super quick Vet Kevin Tye.
The start is real pro with a covered start hut including ramp, two pushers and a timing man with the full 5 finger countdown. The only problem was the 5% 500m hill as soon as you were pushed off. Once over this it was straight into through and off making the most of the closed roads. Every time we came to cross a main road the Gendarmes were holding back the traffic and waving you through, unreal!
42km in and you had to ride through the start town which was set up with tribunes and barriers, plenty of support from the spectators and the final 12km of out and back rolling roads to the finish. We managed to cross the line together and finished 16th out of 38 Vet starters, not bad for what was essentially a sighting visit in preparation for a full blown assault next year.
This trip could be done in two days with just one super French meal but being able to walk 10metres to the nearest bar and have a beer while watching everyone else suffer for the rest of the day was a real treat
Martin Brown, Neil McInerney - not sure why Neil is smiling, there is a 5% ramp as soon as you are pushed off
The name board we could have stuck on the front of our 'Support Car'
The course goes right through the centre of town. The bar is just out of sight on the left
The finish line from the tribunes