Roger Kluge Interview: From the ProTour to the Track
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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Roger Kluge Interview: From the ProTour to the Track

by Ed Hood at 3:03 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Track
 
Versatile German spends his winters on the boards

Roger KlugeIn a world of ever increasing specialisation among bike riders, a professional is typically a ‘Cobbled Classics rider’, an ‘Ardennes Classics specialist’, a ‘man for the Giro,’ or perhaps it’s ‘tout pour le Tour?’ - it’s refreshing to see a rider like Milram’s Roger Kluge, who has mastered the art of having a season that lasts virtually twelve months of the year.

Kluge got his road season off to a solid start this year at the Tour of Qatar, finishing third in the second stage and fourth in the overall.  He then rode well at the Tour of Murcia, finished tenth in Nokere Koerse and went on to notch up his first win of the season in May at the Neuseen Classics (Rund um die Braunkohle).

With his recent signing for the Dutch Skil-Shimano team for the 2011 season, VeloNation took the opportunity to talk to the German strong man about his first year in the ProTour as well as his other specialty, riding the track.

VeloNation: You were originally a sprinter, Roger?

Roger Kluge: Yes, but that was a long time ago, when I was a junior, I rode keirin and team sprint, but saw that if I wanted to do endurance races on the track then I would have to ride the road.

VN: You took to the Pro Tour world rapidly, with fourth on GC in Qatar.

RK: I was surprised by how well I went in Qatar in my ProTour debut this season.  I came out of the Berlin six with good legs but was there to support Gerard Ciolek. When he broke his collarbone in a crash I had the opportunity.

I was happy to have such a good start.

VN: You broke your hand in a crash at the Tour de France – have you recovered from that?

RK: Yes, definitely.  I decided to take a two week holiday during my recuperation period.

I went to hospital in Hamburg to have it attended to, but was back in Paris for the Milram post-Tour party.  Then I spent time on the East coast of Denmark, just relaxing with my family.

I returned to Hamburg to get it checked out, and the doctor said I could re-start training; but carefully and not over cobbles.

My fitness isn’t perfect yet, but it’s where I need to be.

VN: Was Milram’s demise a shock?

RK: Not a shock, during the season we knew it would be stopping.

VN: Why Skil-Shimano, and are there any restrictions on your six day commitments?

RK: They’re a team with a good presence.  The negotiations went well and I heard good things from friends about the team.  It wasn’t such a difficult decision to make.

I’ll be riding two six days, Amsterdam and Berlin, and I’m being given time to prepare for the European track championships and World Cups.  I need to ride those to qualify for the Olympics.

Roger KlugeVN: It’s a turbulent time to be a pro, do you have an agent?

RK: Yes, Toni Rominger and Stefan Wesemann represent me.

VN: 2010 was your first Tour de France?

RK: It was amazing, a great show, the amount of people roadside in Holland and Belgium was unbelievable.  There were crowds for 200 of the 220 kilometres in the stage.  There was nowhere to stop to take a piss!  [laughs]

The Alps were amazing, the crowds are great; you almost forget how sore your legs feel.

I’d like to ride again; I know that Skil-Shimano didn’t get a ride this year, but think they’ll have a much better chance in 2011.

VN: Your programme takes you from road to track and back to road, isn’t that difficult?

RK: Yes but this winter I’ll have more time for road preparation.

This spring it was very hard to go from the track Worlds straight to Paris-Roubaix, but this coming season I’ll be focusing more on the road.

VN: Don’t you get stale, though?

RK: I’ve ridden a road and winter programme for five years now so it’s normal for me.

Instead of taking six to eight weeks off over the winter as a road man would do, I take three or four breaks of around two weeks, maybe January, July and October, I have no problems with that, now.

VN: You have a very distinctive smooth, still, style - did you train to achieve that?

RK: No, it’s not something I’ve thought about, it’s just the way I ride.  You have to be smooth on the track, and I suppose if you look good then it helps you feel good?

VN: Who will be your partner for the sixes?

RK: I have spoken to Patrick Sercu and he’s said that I will again be partnered with Robert Bartko.

He’s a very experienced rider, he won two gold medals at the Sydney Olympics – individual and team pursuit – and there’s a lot I can learn from him.

VN: Which is your favourite six day race?

RK: Berlin, it’s always the best and that’s not just because it’s my home six and I have the crowd behind me.  If you ask any six day rider than they’ll tell you that it’s the six day to win.

The crowd is big, so is the track – 250 metres – and there’s just so much atmosphere and emotion.

VN: Of all the events you ride, which is your favourite?

RK: If you had asked me after the Beijing Olympics where I won the silver in the points race, I would have said ‘the points race,’ but now I would have to say, ‘six day Madison racing.’

It’s a difficult race and requires total concentration.  It’s fast and all the time you must be keeping an overview of the race situation in your mind.

It’s a very specialist discipline and I would say that now, it’s my favourite.

VN: Will you be out for points race gold in London in 2012?

RK: I’ll be going to London but not just for the points race.  They’re introducing the omnium there, and I think that will be a good event for me.  It’s not just one race – you have six different disciplines, that suits me and it’s a race I’ll be preparing specially for.

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