Former Classics star Gerrie Knetemann has been described as a “unique sportsman” and a “great role m
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Former world road race champion turned Dutch national team selector, Gerrie Knetemann, has died of a heart attack at the age of 53. Knetemann was rushed to hospital on Tuesday afternoon after collapsing on a mountain bike ride with three friends in Bergen. Knetemann had stopped to fix his chain, which had fallen off. It was then that his heart also stopped. Knetemann became a leading name and an unmistakable, bespectacled presence in the pro peloton in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A talented all-rounder, he amassed no fewer than ten Tour de France stage victories and eight days in the yellow jersey. He further cemented his place in Dutch affections with victories in the Amstel Gold Race eleven years apart, in 1974 and 1985. ‘De Kneet’s’ finest hour undoubtedly came in the 1978 world road race championship, held on the Nurburgring Formula One circuit. Bound for a two-up sprint with Francesco Moser, Knetemann managed, thanks to incessant grimaces and groans, to convince the Italian that he was too tired to take his turns on the front. Moser fell for the oldest sting in cycling to eventually lose by a matter of centimetres. In 1991, Knetemann received recognition for his contribution to Dutch cycling as he was installed as national team selector. He held the position until his death yesterday. Knetemann’s daughter, Roxanne, accompanied Gerrie to the world championships in Verona in 2004, where she went on to finish fifth for Holland in the junior race. He leaves behind a wife and two more children.