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Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) put in a strong performance in Mende.
Estonian champion leads Cofidis at Paris-Nice
It was a surprise for everyone to see Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) reinforce the breakaway comprised of Sylvain Calzati (Sky), Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) and Volodymir Gustov (Cervélo) with a bit more than 30km to go in stage 5 of Paris-Nice. "We also didn't understand what he wanted to do, that wasn't part of our plan," Cofidis' directeur sportif Francis Vanlondersele told Cyclingnews in Aix-en-Provence.
The Estonian realized his mistake as nobody else from the group of the favourites made the jump to the breakaway with him. "I was too highly placed on GC," Taaramae said. "The other riders in the break asked me to go back to the bunch. When my directeur sportif said okay, I did it."
"All the teams concerned about the overall classification would have chased behind him," Vanlondersele said. "However, I'm more reassured about Rein's condition today than at the beginning of Paris-Nice when he didn't look very confident in himself."
The 23-year-old is now Cofidis' best chance to do well in stage races after he won the Tour de l'Ain and finished third at the Tour of Romandie last year. "He's able to make the top 10 in Paris-Nice," Vanlondersele said. "It's not easy because there are a lot of great riders here. He could even target the top five.
"He's now mature enough for winning nice races. He's got the potential and a team backing him at certain races. He's still young in his mind, though. He keeps making some mistakes and losing energy in the wind but we're getting there."
The Estonian champion lies in tenth position, 1:06 behind Alberto Contador (Astana). Taaramae's considered one of the best prospects of the same generation as Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) for the stage races in the coming years. Taaramae's debut at the Tour de France is highly expected in a country that has lived its cycling madness 10 years ago with a famous sprinter, Jaan Kirsipuu.