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"I worried, but then I came here and I passed two flat stages and I felt so good - the old sensations of before - and I started to think, to dream, I could do something really good on the hard stage," Rein Taaramae said.

Photo: Sirotti




02.05.2014 @ 15:25 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Rein Taaramae, the current Tour of Turkey leader, lives in the moment and craves for this moment to last, as the huge health problems which prevented the 27-year old Estonian from showing his great talent last two seasons, eventually seem to be solved.


Few seasons ago the 27-year old Cofidis rider was regarded one of the greatest talents and certainly a future grand tour contender, with his decent time trialing skills and ability to stay with the best climbers on the most brutal ascents like Galibier or mountaintop finish in Risoul.


As a young rider, Taaramae won Tour De L’Ain (2009) and a mountain stage at the Vuelta a Espana (2011), as well as recorded highly promising results in general classifications of the most important stage races of cycling calendar, including finishing eleventh at the Tour de France (2011), runner up at the Vuelta a Andalucia (2012), third at the Tour de Romandie, Volta a Catalunya and Criterium International (2011) or fourth at the Paris-Nice (2011).


However, since his magnificent 2011 season the 27-year old Estonian champion struggled to post any respectable results, due to confusing health problems being unable not only to stay with the best almost every time when the road started to climb, but having been dropped even by the sprinters on more demanding ascents. His team never pressed him directly, but Taaramae was aware of their growing concern.


"Sometimes I felt the questions they asked of me: 'are you training ok?' 'are you eating ok?'" he said. "It wasn't just the team but my friends and my old trainers too – the guys who were helping me before. My head was completely messed up," he admitted.


At first, Taaramae was diagnosed with asthma, but prescribed medications failed to make a difference and help Cofidis rider returning to his best. Discouraged Estonian admitted that in such circumstances, after absolutely anonymous last two seasons, he started to contemplate quitting cycling, but eventually the true reason of his breathing problems has been found.


"After two years like that. I started to think I couldn't do anything this year and maybe I would finish in cycling. Maybe not this year, but I hoped to do one more year to try and get it back and if it didn't come…"


A month and a half ago, Cofidis rider underwent a larynx operation in Estonia to remove an obstruction which was inhibiting his breathing, and even though the Estonian struggled hard in his first races following the surgery, his ‘old sensations’ returned sooner than it could have been expected at the Tour of Turkey.


Taaramae won the Tour of Turkey queen stage in an emphatic style and there was a true joy and relief written on his face when he crossed the finish line on the Elmali climb.


However, the 27-year old Estonian doesn’t take anything for granted and is reluctant to admit that his recent surgery was successful just yet, living in a beautiful moment he’s been waiting for over two seasons and waiting for a final confirmation that the breathing problems are over.


"It's too early to say," he told Cyclingnews on Thursday at the start of stage 5 in Marmaris. "[After the operation] I did three one-day races, Paris-Camembert, Tour du Finistère, and La Flèche Wallonne just before and I was really bad."


After he struggled in the one-day races that followed the surgery, Taaramae was worried about his condition ahead of the Tour of Turkey, but first flat stages reminded him of his ‘old sensations’..


He said: "I worried, but then I came here and I passed two flat stages and I felt so good – the old sensations of before – and I started to think, to dream, I could do something really good on the hard stage."


Holding the Tour of Turkey leader’s jersey ahead of the decisive sixth stage, Taaramae was reluctant to admit his chances of winning the whole race just a month after his surgery. He certainly dreamed about it, however, and hoped that his recently rediscovered ‘sensations’ will last.


"I live in the moment and I'd love to stay in this moment," Taaramae said.


But he could not, at least not yet. Despite doing everything he could, the 27-year old Estonian lost the leader’s jersey to Adam Yates (Orica GreenEDGE) by the narrowest possible margin of one second on today’s mountain stage and will have to wait longer for his dreams to come true..



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