Roger Kluge (Germany) looked all but out of contention for a medal going into the final round of the omnium at the Track World Championships. However, he mounted an impressive comeback in the points race to take a silver medal, his first ever at the World Championships.
Kluge’s medal came as somewhat of a surprise to the German, who has been focusing on training for the cobbles rather than the wooden boards of the velodrome. “It feels good because I didn’t expect it because I didn’t do a big preparation for the road,” Kluge told Cyclingnews. “I was on the road until last weekend, actually. I was just on the track for a few days before. I knew that I was in good shape in general but I didn’t know what I could do on the track.”
Kluge went into the final event with a 44-point deficit on the competition leader Elia Viviani. However, with the points earned during the race counting towards the final total, a daring strategy could reap plenty of reward. Kluge is an Olympic medallist in the points race discipline and he utilised all his talents to scale the overall rankings, taking not one but two laps on the field, much to the delight of the crowd in the Lee Valley VeloPark in London.
The German’s second lap put him equal on points with Fernando Gaviria. He had hoped to have another punt and put the gold firmly in his grasp but he missed the move that saw Glenn O’Shea step up to third.
“I knew that you could get the most points with a lap. I waited a bit, maybe the first 20 or 30 laps, to just watch what happened. Straight away you could see that Gaviria and Viviani were just playing a game, they were watching each other and I knew with the number of points I was behind I had the chance to take one lap, that they would let me,” Kluge explained.
“To go for the second lap wasn’t a surprise but I felt good so I thought that I would try it again and suddenly I got it and I was at the front of the race and then suddenly I thought now I can fight for it. They are also great riders and Gaviria was really fast. I wanted to try for a third lap but I missed that group with O’Shea and Hansen. If I’d followed the guys now I probably would have won but I am happy with silver. It was a close race and I’m looking forward to Rio now and trying to fight for the gold.”
Kluge will now return to his day job with IAM Cycling, where he will go up against his omnium rivals Gaviria and Mark Cavendish at Tirreno-Adriatico on Monday.
“I go straight to Italy on Monday and then Tirreno-Adriatico is waiting and then all the big Classics with Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix,” said Kluge. “The next two or three months will be more on the road and then in the last two months before the Olympic Games I will be more on the track. I will be better than here in London.”
When asked if his eyes are on gold now after winning silver, he said “Definitely. I want to do it, I miss that gold.”
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