Knaven and Portal join Sky as directeurs sportifs

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Servais Knaven is to join Team Sky as a directeur sportif for 2011. The Dutchman will be joined in the role by Frenchman Nicolas Portal, who rode for the British team in 2010.

Knaven will be best remembered for his 2001 victory at Paris-Roubaix. During 17 seasons as a professional, Knaven finished Roubaix 16 times, also winning a stage of the Tour de France in 2003.

The 39 year old retired in August, but remained with his Milram team as a directeur sportif for the remainder of the season.

"To join a new team like this one now is just amazing," Knaven said. "Not only are Team Sky giving young riders a chance, they are also giving young directors a chance as well, and there is absolutely nowhere else I'd rather be."

Portal was diagnosed with a heart problem at the end of the 2008 season, and missed the 2009 season while still under contract with Caisse d'Epargne.

But after having been given the all-clear last October, Portal signed to Sky for 2010. However, the 31 year old managed just 47 days of racing before calling time on his career as a cyclist.

"To get this opportunity to stay in the sport is great news for me," said Portal. "I have really enjoyed my first season at Team Sky and am thrilled to be taking my first step into management with them."

Knaven and Portal join existing directeurs sportifs Sean Yates, Marcus Ljungqvist and Steven De Jongh at Sky. Scott Sunderland left his position as a directeur sportif with the squad in May.

"Nicolas and Servais are great additions to the existing DS team," said Yates. "Obviously Nicolas was with us this year as a rider and he proved to be an intelligent and friendly guy. It was unfortunate that he couldn't continue with racing, but becoming a DS is a great option for him and his experience as a rider within the team will also benefit us.

"Servais is also starting his DS career with us and over the years has accumulated a huge amount of racing know-how," continued Yates. "His expertise on the Classics races means he will form a formidable duo with Steven De Jongh when we hit those races next season."

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