ProTeam Roger Kluge: “Trust is the most important element of a strong sprint train.”

The experienced Lotto Soudal rider talks about all things lead-out.
General 19 February 2022

Lotto Soudal rider Roger Kluge has been a pro cyclist for twelve seasons, and started his 4th season at the team this year. We caught up with the German to get an insight in what it takes to be one of the best lead-out riders out there.

Roger Kluge has accumulated broad experience in preparing bunch sprints. But what are  the most important elements of forming a solid lead-out train?

“I would say that trust is by far the most important element of a sprint train”, begins Roger Kluge. “You can scream to each other as much as you want but I think the most ideal way is when you don’t need to say that much because of mutual trust. You simply need to have faith in the guys in front of you. And even the guys behind you because often, they see more than the guy who is pulling at the front and who is, most of the time, on the limit.”

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Which skills does it take for a rider to be a good lead-out guy?

Roger Kluge: The most important characteristic of a lead-out guy still is the performance. You need to be in excellent shape and it’s not that you only have to do one sprint during the build-up. The same goes for Caleb, he maybe does 15 to 30 small sprints in the final ten kilometres to stay in position and then he finishes with one big kick in the end. It is the same for the lead-out riders, so it takes a guy who is able to hold this high power for a short time and can repeat this several times. As I am getting older, I admit that I am looking more and more for the safe way. In the past, I would maybe act differently, but by getting older you become wiser and less prone to taking risks. In my case, I can compensate this with my broad experience. Over the years, I noticed that I perceive a better overview of the things going on around me. And those organisational skills are really crucial because a sprint preparation is sometimes like a war zone. It takes a lot more than just experience for a rider to be there in the final. Of course, experience is a big part which helps me a lot but my legs are definitely still good enough to do this.”

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What is it like to work with Caleb Ewan, one of the best sprinters of the peloton?

“Over the past years, I have spent a lot of time together with Caleb”, says Roger Kluge. “The collaboration has been really nice, but also quite intense. You share all the good but also the bad moments. To give you an example, at the UAE Tour last year we needed a few days to integrate the new guys into the sprint train, which caused some frustrations. We always knew that Caleb was ready to win but we just needed some time. In the final stage, it eventually worked out. Also in the Giro, where the second stage was a major chance for the sprinters, I took the wrong decision and of course, there were some words. However, we always try to fight through these difficult moments, we take the time to analyse and we talk a lot. We knew we were able to do it, so we took the next real sprint opportunity with both hands and won it.”

This year, the 36-year-old German welcomes some compatriots into the team as Michael Schwarzmann and Rüdiger Selig will reinforce the sprint train.

“Michael and Rüdiger are really nice reinforcements. Rüdiger can fit into the lead-out train in various positions and he basically has the same riding style like me, which really brings smoothness into the train. And also Michael will add a ton of experience to the team. For me it is also very nice to have to extra Germans in the team”, concludes Roger Kluge.

Images: Facepeeters.

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