"Rein Taaramäe was involved in a race-ending accident with a team director’s car but thankfully didn’t end up causing real harm to the Estonian rider," the team said in a statement released on the Katusha website.
Taaramäe, who started the day more than an hour off the time of race leader Darwin Atapuma (BMC), said he's not entirely sure what happened.
"I was dropped in the group and was riding alone," he said. "In one moment I found myself on the side of the road and I understood that a car hit me from the back. I think I’m lucky that nothing is broken. My bike was broken in probably six pieces. When I saw that, I realized I was really lucky. Later that director spoke to me and said it was his fault but was unsure what had happened, too. He was very sorry."
Katusha director Jose Azevedo provided a more-detailed explanation of what happened.
"Rein was dropped on the hill and the cars were passing him – he was in the middle of the cars," Azevedo said. "I think he didn’t see the Cofidis car. Sometimes this happens where you look to one side and can’t see anything, but I think the car came and he could not avoid it so he was hit from behind. He flew off the bike to the right side of the road and this was a lucky thing because he was safe, but the car hit his bike and destroyed it completely. It was in a lot of pieces.
"Of course it was not on purpose, it was just something that happens in a race. He only has small injuries, but it was impossible for him to continue. I think he was initially in shock and these last days he’s been having some stomach problems. He was suffering to finish today and then this crash, so it needed to be over for him."
Earlier this year, Taaramäe won a stage 20 of the Giro d'Italia ahead of Atapuma and Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Drapac). He followed that with a stage win and the overall title at the Tour de Slovenie in June.
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