2016 Giro d’Italia stage winner and Olympic silver medallist Roger Kluge has signed with ORICA-BikeExchange on the eve of the Rio Olympic Games.
The 30-year-old will join the team from IAM Cycling, in a key support role for young Australian sprint gun Caleb Ewan who, like Kluge, recently signed with ORICA-BikeExchange for the next two years.
The acquisition of the strong German, and that of Slovenian Luka Mezgec last year, shows the intent of the Australian outfit to support Ewan in sprint finishes despite a recent transition to more general classification focuses across the three Grand Tours.
Kluge, who will once again represent his country at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games which starts this weekend, said his main goal will be to lead others to victory.
“I’m really motivated to get integrated into the team and to play an important role in the sprint train,” he said. “I think I can make a really good contribution here and when the team leaders need protection from the wind – I’m happy to go in front.”
“If the opportunity comes up and I get the chance, I’d obviously also like to bring home a win here and there, but above all I’ll be there to lead out the others to victory.
“I like the atmosphere the team shows at the races and I’ve always felt that could fit well into an Australian-based environment. You can tell they have gathered a really good group of people who like to work together and I’m happy that I get the chance to be a part of that.”
Sport director Matt White said the inclusion of Kluge into the sprint squad will boost the development and delivery of Ewan in fast finishes.
“Signing Roger means that we have one of the best athletes in the business to head out our lead-out train for Caleb,” White said. “He’s a world class track rider but also very established on the road and capable of winning Grand Tour stages on his own.”
“For us, he will be a key addition to the work that Luka Mezgez already does really well and going onwards, we will be able to fine tune the way we bring our fast guys in the best possible way to the line.”
From: Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany
Turned pro: 2008
– 1st 2016 Giro di Italia – Stage 17
– 1st 2010 Sparkassen Neuseen Classics – Rund um die Braunkohle
– 2nd 2008 Olympic Points Race
– 3rd 2015 Giro di Italia – Stage 21