April 2001

Servais Knaven Roubaix 2001
Servais Knaven, Winner Paris-Roubaix 2001. Pic; Paul Ward

This is the bike upon which Servais Knaven slipped under the radar, over the mud covered cobbles of northern France and away from the field to take the 2001 Paris Roubaix. The mud remains unwashed from the bike, shrouding it for ever more in the very essence and history of that fabled race and of that classic edition. It is this mud from which the true Paris Roubaix vintage is derived, for which every devotee cannot help but pray for in the days that preceed the running and which fizz with anticipation at the meerest rumour of rain..

This picture was taken by my friend on a trip to Amsterdam and posted to his timeline. That it was one of two possible bikes was immediately apparent, the clues quickly assessed and deciphered to discern for certain which one. And then came the flood of memories: of the warmth seeping back into my thighs and fingers as I settled into the sofa to watch the race, warm tea in hand, the outer layers of kit having been discarded after three hours in the Vale of Belvoir with Mapperley CC; a cafe stop at the beloved and now long gone Margaret’s Cafe, the guy with the Spinergy wheels and Peugeot frame in Festina colours. The picture of the bike brought that day back, the memories vivid – so vivid that for a moment, paused looking into the image, that mud was, for me, still yet to dry..