By Gregor Brown in Compiègne
Perhaps more than any rider, Servais Knaven of Team High Road knows the importance of keeping an eye on the numbers. The Dutchman who won Paris-Roubaix in 2001 thanks to his strength but also the strong Team Domo Farm-Frites tactics that were possible thanks to the number of its riders in the finale.
"Everyone is good, that is what is most important," confirmed the past champion to Cyclingnews on Saturday morning before Team High Road's training ride.
He noted the importance of keeping up front and with a strong team presence if the weather turns bad. "We will see what happens tomorrow. You will see a completely different story if it is raining tomorrow. I remember the year I won, we were on the first cobblestone sector with a break of 15 guys and then maybe ten riders came back, so it was only 25 riders who really did the race. So you can see that a wet day changes things and that the most important goal is to have as many riders as possible from the team in the front so that we can have a good tactic."
When he won with 2001, there were options for the team to play, namely a super strong Domo Farm-Frites team-mate Johan Museeuw. "It is important to have the most riders possible in the front from the team, but for every race that is the same. I know, like team Quick Step is always very motivated for this race and all the Classics; however, this race is something special also for us, and if we have the riders up front we can do something."
The whole of High Road will likely back USA's George Hincapie, with Bernhard Eisel, Roger Hammond and Knaven playing strong backing roles. "My job, I don't know, we have not really discussed. I think the tactics can be made after the Arenberg Forest. We have a really strong team and everyone is capable of being in the front in the finale; however, first we have to see what happens in the opening kilometres."