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"It’s just beautiful to be riding in such condition. I thought I would never find it back again. In the past, I was a very good rider but these last two years, I thought my engine had blown," Taaramae says

Photo: Sirotti

REIN TAARAMAE

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ROMAIN HARDY

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29.04.2014 @ 20:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having won a stage at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana and performed well in several WorldTour races, Rein Taaramae was regarded as one of the next big stage race riders but his progress stalled when health issues prevented him from breathing. On March 12, he went through surgery that solved the problem and today he returned to his best sooner than expected when he wont the Tour of Turkey queen stage.

 

Several years ago Rein Taaramae marked himself out as a potential future grand tour winner but over the last few seasons he has disappeared from the scene. Instead of producing his usual top 10 results in WorldTour stage races, he was seen at the back of the peloton when the road pointed upwards.

 

This year Taaramae has finally found the reason for his struggles as he has been diagnosed with a health issue that could be solved by surgery. He went under the knife earlier this year and has since eased himself back into competition.

 

Today he proved that he may return to his best level when he won the queen stage of the Tour of Turkey in very impressive fashion. Clad in his Estonian champion's jersey, he put in a storming ride on the Elmali climb to take a solo win on the ascent known as the Turkish Alpe d'Huez and take the leader's jersey in the 8-day race.

 

"It’s just beautiful to be riding in such condition," he said. "I thought I would never find it back again. In the past, I was a very good rider but these last two years, I thought my engine had blown. I was climbing with the sprinters and sometimes they even dropped me.

 

"Nobody knew what was wrong. I was actually suffering from a laringal obstruction and I had asthma. I had too much skin on the larynx and the air did not get through. I couldn’t breathe. I received surgery in Estonia on March 12 and it changed everything. I didn’t expect to be back to my best that quickly. It’s wonderful.

 

"I must first of all thank my team-mates who perfectly paved the way for me. I didn’t ask anything but they did their utmost to place me ideally. We were supposed to be riding more for Yoann Bagot but he didn’t feel too well after his crash.

 

"I didn’t want to attack too early because of the headwind. I thought everything would be decided in the last two kilometres. 2.8 km from the summit, Tomasz Marczynski attacked hard. Everybody was full gas and I told myself it was time to go. I took a tight curve at full speed.

 

"Only a rider from Orica (Adam Yates) could take my wheel. I don’t know how old he is but I guess I have more experience than he has. My legs were hurting but so were his. I was really confident.

 

"Of course, I want to win the overall, I have a lot of confidence in my team but it won’t be easy. The race is still long and everything remains possible.

 

"I already held the Turquoise jersey in 2010 but at the time, I had been warned by my team I was doing the Tour of Turkey at the last minute. I was in the middle of a break. Now I feel great."

 

Taaramae was not the only Cofidis rider to be revived in today's stage. Romain Hardy put year's of struggles behind him when he finished 3rd in the stage to make it two riders on the podium from the French team.

 

“I’m really glad about Rein’s victory and personally I was surprised to finish that well," he said. "Our two leaders, initially, were Yoann Bagot and him but Yoann crashed, he was unwell and his knee was hurting. So in the last climb it was all for Rein.

 

"Nicolas Edet also did a great job. When Rein attacked, the others didn’t quite recognise him with his Estonian champion jersey and I started to impose a false tempo so that our rivals thought there was no Cofidis in the front.

 

"I had started feeling good for a month, 4th in Paris-Camembert and I was good at the Tour du Finistere as well. Today marks the end of two years in the doldrums for me after my toxoplasmosis in 2012.

 

"I really thank Cofidis for their patience. I lived eight months without riding and I couldn’t do anything until the summer 2013. The team adapted a programme to help me back into shape and here we are, I really feel I’m back at my level”

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