Veteran Servais Knaven will lead German ProTour Team Milram at Paris-Roubaix this Sunday, April 11. Knaven, who won the race in 2001, is looking set an historical record. If the 39-year-old Dutchman finishes the ride through "the hell of the north", he wlll be the only active rider to have started and ended the race 16 times.
Former winner Raymond Impanis also finished the race 16 times. Howver, the Belgian, born in 1925, started more often and did not finish the race each time.
"Of course, I want to cross the finish line in the velodrome of Roubaix," said Knaven of his 16th appearance at Paris-Roubaix. "I would be very proud. But that is not the most important thing. It is more important that we have a good performance as a team and that one of our riders finishes as far forward as possible."
Team Milram's directeur sportif Ralf Grabsch was also looking forward to the race. "We have done well in our last races and all of our Classics riders are really looking forward to this important race. The day's form is decisive in this race. You need to give 120 percent and have an iron will. Plus you need the luck to come through without a mechanical problem."
In addition to veteran Knaven, Grabsch will look in the "hell of the north" to Classics specialists Niki Terpstra and Wim de Vocht as well as three Germans, Markus Eichler, Roger Kluge and Paul Voß and Austrian Peter "Paco" Wrolich. Grabsch will have to do without Classics expert Roy Sentjens, who had to pass on participating due to an intestinal infection. His place will be taken by Australian Luke Roberts.
The race, which has been carried out since 1896, is one of the five so-called Monuments of Cycling. The "La Reine des Classics" (Queen of the Classics) has its own unique character due to the approximately 50 kilometers of cobblestone passages. On the 259 kilometers between Compiegne and the velodrome in Roubaix, any rider has a chance to win, depending on weather and how the race goes.
Current Director Sportif Grabsch made his own mark in the race in 2007 with a long solo effort and a 15th place finish.
In the 107 runnings of the race to day, only one German has been able to win: Josef Fischer, who won the premiere race in 1896.
Team Milram for Paris-Roubaix: Wim de Vocht (Bel), Markus Eichler (Ger), Roger Kluge (Ger), Servais Knaven (Ned), Niki Terpstra (Ned); Paul Voß (Ger), Peter Wrolich (Aut) and Luke Roberts (Aus).