The Story Behind the Photo: The Joy of the Lead-Out Man, Rudi Selig
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the final kilometre of this special stage of the Giro d'Italia. In fact, I don't think I’ve ever experienced racing in such cold conditions. We were all shivering and counting down the metres to the finish line. And there were also some really tricky corners, which hardly made the task at hand any easier.
However, as a professional rider, there comes a moment in the race when you’re able to change your mindset and you forget the pain and the risks involved. You just become focused on your position and how you can set up your sprinter to win the race. It almost becomes like tunnel focus. And then, I just trust in myself, and in Acki to finish off the job.
People often ask what it feels like, as a lead-out rider, when our sprinter wins. For me, it’s truly the greatest feeling when Acki wins a race. I’d actually say it’s better than if I were to win. I can’t really explain that, but it’s definitely true. I love what we doing and I’ve found my perfect spot in the peloton as a lead-out rider. And I think I’m one of the best in this particular role. I’d say it’s better to try to be the best lead-out rider than a "good" sprinter.
Going back to the story of how Acki and I began riding together, I remember our first race really well. It was the Tour de Romandie in 2018. There was a chance for us in the sprint on the final stage. But first of all, we had to get past the tough climbing stages. From what I saw, Acki gained a lot of confidence over that week, so I trusted him and he trusted me, and on the last day, we did our thing, and he took the win. It also became the start of a good friendship.
We got along really well together, and we realised quickly that we fully trust and respect each other. He’s actually the first sprinter who seems to always be able to find my wheel, no matter how narrow the gap is, he’ll find a way onto my wheel. I think we work on instinct, as we think very similarly. I usually call out to him a few times during the final few kilometres to see if he’s still on my wheel, and I always hear the same thing: "yep!"
And all of that is why you see such joy on my face in the finish photos whenever Acki wins.