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"I didn’t know that young guy but he was surprisingly strong. Every time I attacked, he followed. That’s why I decided to put in one more big attack. I gave everything  for several hundred meters."



18.06.2016 @ 01:16 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Rein Taaramae (Katusha) proved that he has finished the Giro d’Italia in excellent condition by riding to a dominant solo victory in the Tour de Slovenie queen stage. Having been set up by his teammate Pavel Kochetkov, he dropped his final companion Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEDGE) with less than 2km to go and then powered to the top of the final climb with a 36-second advantage, with Egan Bernal (Androni) crossing the line in third. Taaramae also took the leader’s jersey on the eve of the time trial.


We have gathered several reactions.


Rein Taaramae: I didn’t know who that young kid was

It was a difficult and trying stage in the Tour of Slovenia for Friday’s stage 2, but Team Katusha’s Rein Taaramäe had it well in hand, taking both the win on the 217,2km route between Nova Gorica and the ski resort of Golte and slipping into the leader’s jersey, as well.


“It was so hard today with three big climbs – one at 11km and two at 15km. The last one to Golte averaged 7,3% with gradients up to 23%. I had a 36 chainring in the front and even with that chainring it was hard, but I made it. It’s nice, especially since I had to change my bike because of a wheel problem three times in 15 kilometers and just before the last climb. Fortunately I had good legs and a super team. Also my team director Claudio Cozzi told me to stay calm. He knew that I would have possibilities on this final climb. He assured me I did not have to panic in advance. At 5km from the finish, we caught the last riders of a five-man breakaway and then some attacks started. Our group started to get smaller and smaller with more riders dropped. In the end I stayed in front with my teammate Pavel Kochetkov and Jack Haig from Orica-GreenEdge. I didn’t know that young guy but he was surprisingly strong. Every time I attacked, he followed. That’s why I decided to put in one more big attack. I gave everything  for several hundred meters. After 400 meters I saw Haig was dropping meter by meter. I felt the victory was for me but that last kilometer was so steep, around 15%. It seemed to never end, but in the end I made it,” said new race leader Rein Taaramäe.


"After the Giro I had only one day off, so I kept going. But I had problems today. In the last descent I broke my bike. I had to change it twice before the final climb. It was not easy to return, but I felt very good. I knew I could win. 1.5 kilometers from the finish, I somehow knew it, though not completely, because I didn’t know the talented Haig. Several times I tried, and once he got dropped, I realized that the victory was mine.”


Katusha teammate Pavel Kochetkov took a fine 4th place in the mountain stage.


The general classification results are the same with Taaramäe the new leader with two stages to go, including Saturday’s individual time trial at 16,8km from Celje to Celjska Koča with an uphill finish.


Breakthrough performance by Jack Haig in Slovenian queen stage

Jack Haig continued the run of good form for Orica-GreenEDGE at the Tour of Slovenia by finishing in second place on today’s mountainous Queen Stage, moving into second on the general classification.


The 22-year old Australian impressed yet again today after Orica-GreenEDGE led the race for 217 brutal kilometres that ended with a difficult fight to the summit finish in Golte. Rein Taaramae (Katusha) took the stage win after Haig and the Katusha rider attacked off the front in the final five kilometres.


Canadian powerhouse Christian Meier controlled the front of the peloton for an astonishing 180kilometres to keep Orica -GreenEDGE in an excellent position ahead of tomorrow’s individual time trial.


Sport director Matt Wilson praised the efforts of the five-man team on a truly difficult stage today.


“The whole team were genuinely outstanding today,” said Wilson. “We really performed incredibly and gave it everything to try and defend the leaders jersey. Christian (Meier) literally pulled all day and Jens Keukeleire returned the favour for Jack (Haig) by leading him onto the final climb and staying with him for as long as possible.”


“Everyone really did a great job and I can’t praise them enough,” continued Wilson. “Jack is only 22 and he is developing very quickly, to come so close to a stage win at this level on this parcours is very impressive.


“Tomorrow’s time trial route is half flat and half uphill and you can be sure that we are going to give it everything to try and get that leaders jersey back.”


Androni with strength in numbers in Slovenian queen stage

For Androni Sidermec, Egan Bernal was on the podium in third. The Colombian climber also got the black jersey for best young rider. With Franco Pellizotti (9th) and Rodolfo Torres (15th), the team is leading the teams classification.


Janez Brajkovic bounces back from heart surgery to shine on home soil

Despite recent surgery, Janez Brajkovic finished fifth.


"At the bottom of the climb I suffered a lot. I was hoping that I would not get dropped,” he told


"On the last climb, I was maybe lacking confidence. If you can go with the first group, it might be a possibility to stay with them. When the boys attacked, I did not even try to follow. Maybe I'm a little frustrated about that."


"Given the fact that I had heart surgery two weeks ago, I have to be satisfied. More should not be expected.”


“After the operation I had three days without doing anything and then I had to travel from the US. It took another three days, so I only trained for a week. "


"It is very difficult to predict what I can do in the TT because of how much I have trained. I can be good, bad or mediocre. I only know that I will give everything and I'll see where I will end up.”


Solid ride by Bora-Argon 18 captain in Slovenian queen stage

Behind the leaders, a group of about 10 riders was able to limit their losses. Within this group, there were José Mendes and Jan Bárta from BORA – ARGON 18. Mendes took another good top ten result after his strong performance in Norway 3 week ago.


“It was really a hard day. We hoped that one of our climbers could stay with the best today, but the top ten from José is still a strong result. Also Jan delivered a good performance today. Unfortunately, Gregor Mühlberger had two punctures before the last climb and therefore lost all his chances. But tomorrow is another day and I think we have a strong team here and can try something,” said André Schulze, sports director.


Gianni Moscon continues great neo-pro season in Slovenian mountains

Gianni Moscon impressed on the tough summit finish of stage two at the Tour of Slovenia to come home 12th.


The young Italian was part of an elite group duking it out for the win on the gruelling final ascent and he came home one minute and 28 seconds down, to move to 14th overall.


Stage winner Rein Taaramae (Katusha) escaped with Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEdge) midway up the climb and the pair battled it out for the victory, while behind Moscon dug in at the end of the 217km stage to secure his strong finish.


Sport Director Dario Cioni told that Moscon can be happy with the day's result after the disappointment of stage one.


He said: "Gianni was in the elite group and then paced himself to the end. It was a pretty big climb, which shows that he's got good climbing capabilities. He was a little disappointed after yesterday but he can definitely be happy with today's ride."


Stage three in Slovenia is a tough, hilly 17km time trial, and Cioni revealed that the 22 year old has been working hard on his performances against the clock in recent weeks.


He added: "It will be interesting to see what he does in tomorrow's time trial. He had never done a time trial until this year and he's been doing some training work on it over the past few weeks, so it will be a good test for him."


Another difficult day for Tinkoff in Slovenia

While the guys unsuccessfully tried to get in the break, this perhaps worked to the Tinkoff’s advantage, as they were able to save their legs for the tough final climbs, as Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman explained.


“We tried for the break early on but when it went after 15 kilometres we didn't get any one in there so we focused on setting up for the climbs and then when the guys were suffering the focus was to make it home safe.”


On this painful mountain stage, Hoffman knew riders would find it difficult.


“It was a hard stage today - the queen stage with two mountains to climb before a very hard and steep uphill finish. Given the climbing nature of the stage Poljanski was our man for today but he didn't have the legs.”


The first Tinkoff rider across the line was the Austrian rider, Michael Gogl, fresh from the challenging parcours of the Tour of California and Tour de Luxembourg. Hoffman was impressed with his performance. “

Michael Gogl did a good ride to hang in there until late in the day and he was our first man home - he showed good climbing legs today which was promising from him.”


After a tough day, Hoffman was looking to tomorrow.


“Hopefully with tomorrow's time trial we will be able to look for a better result.”


Luka Pibernik takes over from Diego Ulissi in Slovenian queen stage.

While Diego Ulissi was testing his legs on the climbs after the training he did in the period between the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of Slovenia, Luka Pibernik delivered a very good performance for Lampre-Merida, reaching the finish in 17th position at 2’07”. This gap is very small for the Slovenian champion who’s not a pure climber.


Pibernik is 16th in the overall classification at 2’07”


Sick Mark Cavendish abandons final preparation race for the Tour

For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Omar Fraile and Nathan Haas were the men for the final climb. Unfortunately Haas along with Mark Cavendish fell ill during the stage and both riders had to abandon the race. Back to the final climb, and with 10km to go, Fraile had Kristian Sbaragli and Nic Dougall for support. With 5km to go though, only 12 riders remained in contention, Fraile and Sbaragli both still in contention.


Unfortunately Fraile started cramping and even had to stop momentarily. Sbaragli, normally one of the men for the harder sprint stages, showed he had good climbing legs and rode really well in the end to finish 3’50” down on Taaramae and just outside the top 20.


Sports director Alex Sans Vega said:


“Today was a big mountain stage and also very long at 217km. Our plan was to go in the final with Nathan Haas and Omar Fraile. Unfortunately from the start Nathan did not feel healthy. The team supported Omar all the way to the final climb and it turned out that Kristian also climbed very well. 4km from the finish Omar and Kristian were in the front with the favourites but Omar then got cramps and couldn’t follow anymore. Kristian also got dropped but rode his own pace to finish and was our highest placed rider on the stage.


”Unfortunately Haas and Mark Cavendish both had to stop the race today as they were both not feeling well.


“Tomorrow is the hard time trial, we will have to see what result we can get but I think Omar can do a good time.”



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