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Pro bike: Servais Knaven's Team Milram Focus Mares Paris-Roubaix

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Servais Knaven (Team Milram) would have ridden this Focus Mares if the weather looked ominous for this year's Paris-Roubaix.

Servais Knaven (Team Milram) would have ridden this Focus Mares if the weather looked ominous for this year's Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Continental team-only tubulars were popular among the peloton.

Continental team-only tubulars were popular among the peloton.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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DT Swiss logos are covered up on the front and rear hubs.

DT Swiss logos are covered up on the front and rear hubs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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These Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals saw a few shake-out rides the week prior to Paris-Roubaix but went unused that day.

These Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals saw a few shake-out rides the week prior to Paris-Roubaix but went unused that day.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Paris-Roubaix must be like Christmas time for Ambrosio judging by how many teams were using its rims.

Paris-Roubaix must be like Christmas time for Ambrosio judging by how many teams were using its rims.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The flexible carbon shell of fi'zi:k's Aliante saddle would have provided a bit of extra cushioning over the cobbles.

The flexible carbon shell of fi'zi:k's Aliante saddle would have provided a bit of extra cushioning over the cobbles.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The rear brake housing stop is built into the seatpost collar.

The rear brake housing stop is built into the seatpost collar.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The top tube routed cables help protect them from mud but require a pulley on the seat tube to operate the front derailleur.

The top tube routed cables help protect them from mud but require a pulley on the seat tube to operate the front derailleur.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Knaven was still finalizing his position on Thursday. Mechanics were ready to cut the steerer tube and remove excess spacers one he was satisfied.

Knaven was still finalizing his position on Thursday. Mechanics were ready to cut the steerer tube and remove excess spacers one he was satisfied.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The all-carbon Focus Mares fork features widely set legs for lots of clearance.

The all-carbon Focus Mares fork features widely set legs for lots of clearance.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A SRAM Red rear derailleur is bolted to a replaceable hanger.

A SRAM Red rear derailleur is bolted to a replaceable hanger.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Knaven's mechanics were still readying the alternate bike for service when we caught up with it, hence the uncapped cable end.

Knaven's mechanics were still readying the alternate bike for service when we caught up with it, hence the uncapped cable end.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Knaven's bike is fitted with compact-bend bars.

Knaven's bike is fitted with compact-bend bars.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The meaty-looking bottom bracket area houses oversized BB30 integrated bearings.

The meaty-looking bottom bracket area houses oversized BB30 integrated bearings.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Generous clearance is provided by road tires passing through 'cross-sized openings. Avid's new Shorty Ultimate cantilevers provide stopping power.

Generous clearance is provided by road tires passing through 'cross-sized openings. Avid's new Shorty Ultimate cantilevers provide stopping power.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A pair of Tacx Tao cages were at the ready to hold on to Knaven's bottles but Sunday's dry weather meant they went unused.

A pair of Tacx Tao cages were at the ready to hold on to Knaven's bottles but Sunday's dry weather meant they went unused.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Curiously, Milram mechanics fitted SRAM's PG-1090 cassette while other SRAM-sponsored teams opted for the more mud-friendly PG-1070 model.

Curiously, Milram mechanics fitted SRAM's PG-1090 cassette while other SRAM-sponsored teams opted for the more mud-friendly PG-1070 model.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A handy chain watcher dangles from the front derailleur mounting bolt.

A handy chain watcher dangles from the front derailleur mounting bolt.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Standard-sized chainrings were fitted to Knaven's bike when we saw it three days before Paris-Roubaix. Had the weather looked ominous, mechanics planned to install a larger 44T inner ring.

Standard-sized chainrings were fitted to Knaven's bike when we saw it three days before Paris-Roubaix. Had the weather looked ominous, mechanics planned to install a larger 44T inner ring.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Paris-Roubaix veteran Knaven was well prepared in the event of a muddy parcours.

Paris-Roubaix veteran Knaven was well prepared in the event of a muddy parcours.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Knaven's Focus Mares frame provides the foundation for a SRAM Red BB30 crank.

Knaven's Focus Mares frame provides the foundation for a SRAM Red BB30 crank.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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DT Swiss was also tapped for the stainless steel spokes.

DT Swiss was also tapped for the stainless steel spokes.
(Image credit: James Huang)

Servais Knaven (Team Milram) may have finished 12' 47" down on Paris-Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) but in the process, rolled his way into history by tying the record of sixteen starts at the queen of the classics. Even better, though, Knaven has incredibly finished all sixteen times and even won the event in 2001.

That kind of experience comes with a wealth of knowledge and Knaven was unsurprisingly prepared for whatever Sunday brought his way. He finished in the Roubaix velodrome aboard his usual Focus Izalco road bike but muddy conditions would have seen him on his Focus Mares carbon 'cross machine instead.

We caught up with Knaven's alternate bike three days prior to the start of this year's running and so it still wasn't quite finalized but it's clear what the Dutch rider was aiming for. Even when fitted with traditional box-section Ambrosio aluminum tubular rims and fat 28mm-wide Continental tires, there was heaps of clearance at either end for mud and road debris to pass through. Adding to the generous clearances were Avid's new Shorty Ultimate cantilevers brakes with their uniquely configurable high or low profile stance, CNC-machined aluminum construction and light weight.

Additional safeguards included top tube routed cables to protect them from mud and debris (though they weren't sealed) and a machined aluminum chain watcher clamped underneath the front derailleur mounting bolt.

Otherwise, much of the rest of the gear was similar to what Knaven normally uses, including a SRAM Red drivetrain, Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals, and cockpit components from FSA and fi'zi:k. Interestingly, that also included a Red cassette, too, whose distinctive PowerDome construction most other teams passed over on Sunday for its propensity to pack with mud. Chainrings were still the usual 53/39T variety but mechanics were preparing to install a larger 44T inner ring after we left the team hotel.

In spite of the beefier frame and the setting aside of the team's usual Lightweight all-carbon deep-section wheels, Knaven's spare rig was still quite light at just 8.02kg (17.68lb) as pictured here. Drivetrain efficiency likely wouldn't have been far off from his road-going Izalco, either, given the Mares's large-diameter tubes throughout and oversized BB30 bottom bracket.

Race day brought dry conditions and relatively clear roads, though, so ultimately this bike went unused – perhaps a good thing considering Knaven had only ridden it five or six times according to the team mechanic. But at age 39, Knaven has demonstrated that he still has what it takes to finish Paris-Roubaix, rain or shine.

Knaven left the door open for yet one more Paris-Roubaix shortly after he finished on Sunday but more recently, he's now announced that he will retire this August.

Cheers to you, Servais. Paris-Roubaix won't be the same without you.

Complete bike specifications: