With 13 grand tours under his belt, Christian Knees is one of Team Sky’s strongest domestiques. His tireless work has contributed to 14 race victories, including, most notably, the yellow jersey won by Brad Wiggins in the 2012 Tour de France, Christian’s seventh consecutive Tour. His personal palmarès includes victory in the German national road race championship in 2010 before joining Team Sky. When Christian was a young cyclist watching pro races on television, he was intrigued by the sacrifice of the domestiques and their selfless devotion to their team leader.
They’d give up wheels when key riders punctured, collect food and bottles from the team car for teammates, chase down early attacks and keep breakaways in check, ensure that the riders they were looking after were well positioned heading into key sections of races, and provide shelter for them to make sure they conserved their energy for as long as possible. In other sports, it’s rare to see athletes completely sacrificing themselves like this to help another athlete win.
During the off-season, Christian enjoys spending time at home with his wife and two daughters near Cologne, Germany. With today’s long race calendar, professional cyclists have only a few weeks a year to enjoy quiet moments with their families and put in some stressfree training kilometers alone or with friends. The typical winter day in Cologne can be anywhere from +8°C to -15°C, but the beautiful scenery with rolling hills and the quiet, misty roads with hardly another soul in sight help motivate Christian to get in that allimportant base work before heading to the first training camp of the new season.
When we meet with Christian at his home during the Castelli catalog photo shoot, he explains to us that riding in this area makes him strong; though the climbs are short, he can easily rack up 2,000 meters of elevation gain in a 100-kilmeter ride. As he points out, the winter road cycling here is amazing if you’re prepared and have the right kit. With the proper clothing you’ll be prepared for virtually anything that the winter can throw at you.
HOW TO DRESS
As a seasoned pro whose job requires that he ride in all kinds of weather, Christian knows how to dress for winter training. Here’s what he recommends for riding in all but the worst and coldest conditions.
Base layer: A moisture-wicking base layer like the Prosecco LS, which will help keep the body dry, is crucial. It’s better to wear an additional thin layer rather than one layer that’s too thick.
Jacket: A waterproof or water-repellent jacket like the Alpha provides full protection from the worst that Mother Nature can throw at you on your winter rides. The thermal-layer insert of the jacket worn over your base layer will keep the warmth in but work with the base layer and shell to let sweat vapor out.
Bibtights: The Sorpasso is an all-round great option for a wide range of conditions and provides plenty of warmth even when the temperature drops below freezing.
One last tip from a super-domestique: Be positive in your approach, and enjoy your riding despite the weather.
Date of Birth: 05 Mar 1981
Birth Place: Germany
Photos: Edoardo Civiero, Team Sky