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Rein Taaramae (Cofidis)
Estonian takes best result ever at Paris-Nice
Cofidis rider Rein Taaramae has high hopes for the 2011 season after starting it with a fourth place in the overall classification of Paris-Nice, his "best result ever". Now, Taaramae is fully focused to continue on this streak, firmly believing in his overall chances at the Tour de France in July.
The Estonian made the 'race to the sun' a target, but feared that the 27-kilometre time trial this year would be fatal to him. "Before the race, I was a little nervous, I hoped that I could finish in the top six but I was afraid of the time trial," he told French velochrono. "Usually, I finish between 20th and 30th in the time trials, but there I got eighth! And in the mountains, I felt really at ease. I'm very happy about my result."
The positive development of his career is a consequence of a variety of factors - a changed diet over the winter, less distraction during races and a certain maturity the 23-year-old has only just started to acquire. "I have much more experience and calmness now," he explained. "This week, I didn't respond to phone calls, I stayed calm and concentrated on the race to rest as much as possible. This way, I already feel less tired. And this winter, dietitians discovered that I was allergic to the gluten contained in eggs or milk. We took all of this out of my menus and I felt an enormous difference. They're small things, but this year I feel really good. And I can still improve."
Taaramae, who has already shown that he is able to play a major role in week-long stage races by finishing third in both the 2009 Tour de Romandie and 2010 Volta a Catalunya, hopes that this progression will lead him to becoming a contender in the Grand Tours, too. In fact, he believes that "if everything goes well, if I'm in good condition and my team is good, then I really think that I can do a top 10".
The Estonian's next goal is thus the Tour de France, which he had to abandon last year on stage 13. His Cofidis team is confident that he can live up to his expectations and has designed a lighter racing programme for him.
"My next great objective is the Tour," he confirmed. "I'm not doing the Volta a Catalunya this year. On the other races, it doesn't matter if I don't get great results. I want to get to July less tired, more relaxed. Last year, I performed well in Paris-Nice and in Catalunya and I got to the Tour stressed out. I was under a lot of strain, the team had made me race too much and I couldn't recover. Besides, I was burned out until the end of the season."