After a 17-year professional racing career Christian Knees will retire at the end of the 2020 season, before taking up a new role at the INEOS Grenadiers.

The 39 year old has enjoyed a long and decorated career, including spending the last decade with the team. With 20 Grand Tour appearances to his name, Knees was part of the team’s first Tour de France victory in 2012, in addition to Chris Froome’s three consecutive Grand Tour wins during 2017 and 2018.
A former German national champion in 2010, Knees is one of the sport’s most loyal support riders and next season will move to a new role, putting his experience to use behind the scenes to help the team’s Racing and Performance departments.
On calling time on his racing career, Knees told “17 years is a long time. To be a professional at 39 years old is not something many people can say. At some point you need to retire and it’s always hard to end a chapter – but I’m really proud of what I achieved. The Grand Tour wins with the team – being there in 2012 with Bradley, and to be alongside Froomey at the start of the Tour in Germany in 2017. There are so many good memories, not to mention spending 10 years in one of the world’s best sports teams. 
“On a personal level, being the national champion of Germany in 2010 and wearing that jersey for a year was a big honour. Winning my home race at Rund um Koln and also winning Bayern Rundfahrt – these are some really nice results that I can look back on with my head held high. Now it’s a good time to have some different adventures but will always ride my bike. I love riding and I love training.
“I’m staying with the team next year which I’m really happy with. Initially it’s going to be a year of trying different angles and new things off the bike, looking at how I can best help the team be successful.”

Knees was key in helping protect Bradley Wiggins during the Tour in 2012 as the team won the yellow jersey for the first time. Unsurprisingly he looks back on not just that race, but the whole season, with immense pride.
“All that year in 2012 was just phenomenal. We moved on from race to race, kind of winning everything. We won Paris-Nice, then the Dauphine. The Dauphine was a great team result with Mick Rogers on the podium, winning team GC and having Froomey also up there. It just went to plan every day in the Tour and I never had a doubt we’d make it. I had this extra motivation from the year before, where we went to the Tour and Bradley crashed out with a broken collarbone. I didn’t want to see him on the floor again – so I knew my job would be to protect him and be in the wind for him. I just tried to give my best every day and I knew we’d have a good chance to win the Tour for the first time.”
Knees also played a key and unique role as an ever-present in Froome’s three consecutive Grand Tour successes across the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
“It was always a goal that I wanted to do three consecutive Grand Tours in a year. I wanted to see how that would feel. In the end with Froomey we didn’t do three in a single year, but we went to consecutive Grand Tours and won all of them. That was something really special. I was the only guy who was with him at all three of those Grand Tours. It wasn’t that much recognised in public, but for me it’s not about that – I love my job and I like that I can look back and tell my grandchildren about this one day.”
Christian Knees

Christian Knees

At some point you need to retire and it’s always hard to end a chapter – but I’m really proud of what I achieved.

The winter of 2010 also proved to be a key crossroads in Knees’ career. Left without a team after the collapse of a new prospective WorldTour squad, the then German champion was able to sign a late deal with Team Sky for 2011. 
A decade later Knees admits: “I never look back at what could have been. I was maybe lucky that year, but I would say that the German title helped me a lot to find another team after the Pegasus team broke down. In the end I didn’t just find another team, I found the team. That was really incredible when my management told me they were talking to Sky. I had to call Dave Brailsford on December 24 to give him my word that I’d take the contract. That’s late – really late – but it was a nice Christmas gift! I’m really grateful for that chance. Who would have thought then that it would be a 10-year stint in the team. It’s been amazing. My time in German teams was also something I really enjoyed, and I’m really thankful for all the people I could meet through cycling. It’s never felt like working. It’s my passion and because of that I never felt the pressure too much – I just loved it.”