Rein Taaramae (Astana Pro Team) came up short on stage 3 of the Arctic Race of Norway after he was caught and passed on the final climb by stage winner and new race leader Ben Hermans (BMC Racing).
Taaramae attacked twice on the final climb to Målselv and briefly opened gaps on both occasions. It was his second acceleration with two kilometres to go that looked set to seal the stage as he opened up what looked liked a healthy gap.
However, with a tough headwind Hermans was able to ride at his own pace before catching the Astana rider inside the final 500 meters. Once the catch was made there was only one outcome and Hermans came home three seconds clear of a disappointed Taaramae.
“I have no complaints because we did it the right way. Maybe Hermans was just a bit more clever because when I attacked he waited and there was a headwind. He was able to recover, and when he caught me he was able to go again and beat me,” Taaramae said at the finish.
“I knew that as soon as he caught me that I wasn’t going to win because I wasn’t going to be able to follow. It was an intensive effort on a tough climb.”
Taaramae has been in fine form in recent weeks and after abandoning the Tour de France in July he went on to win the Tour of Burgos earlier this month. Despite that result the 28-year-old looks set to leave Astana at the end of the season. Reportedly up to six teams are interested in his services, with his one-year deal at Astana set to run out in December.
“It’s possible that I leave. It’s a very good team but I want to go and do something else,” said the Estonian.
When asked which teams were interested in signing him, he would only say: "It’s a big secret.”