Rein Taaramäe will ride for Team Katusha in 2016 after completing a switch from Astana. Cyclingnews reported on Tuesday that a deal between the Estonian rider and the Russian team was close to being finalised and confirmation came via the Russian team on Wednesday morning.
The 28-year-old spent the first seven of his eight years so far as a professional at French outfit Cofidis before he joined Astana at the start of this year. In 2011 he finished 11th at the Tour de France and won a stage at the Vuelta a España, before encountering struggles with illness and injury that forced him to consider quitting cycling. His standout moments in the light blue of Astana have come in August, with back-to-back GC triumphs at the Vuelta a Burgos and the Arctic Race of Norway.
"I am so happy to come to this strong team. Team Katusha is a winning team in 2015. You could feel this atmosphere at races when hanging around Katusha," said Taaramäe in a team statement.
"What convinced me the most to make the move was the fact that the team directors and the team manager really believe in me. I will be able to obtain more results than I have so far. They have convinced me that I can still improve. These past years I have had so much bad luck in my career with mononucleosis, fractures and other health issues. Now I am back. I feel that I can start my second career."
"Katusha believes in me and I will not disappoint them. Grand Tours, smaller stage races or Classics, it doesn't matter. I will be good everywhere. My goal is to work for guys like Joaquim Rodriguez, but also for others. As long as the team wins, it doesn't matter if it is me or another rider who wins."
The move represents another move from Katusha team boss Viachelsav Ekimov in the transfer market. He has also signed Michael Mørkøv from Tinkoff-Saxo, with Yuri Trofimov moving in the opposite direction, and has made sure star riders Joaquim Rodríguez and Alexander Kristoff will be on the team's roster for 2016. As Cyclingnews reported, he is still on the lookout for reinforcements, with Daniel Moreno set to leave the team at the end of the year.
"Rein Taaramäe is the type of rider we were looking for. The last months we worked hard on making our team stronger for the Classics. We also needed to strengthen our team for the stage races. Rein has finished 11th in the Tour de France and that means a lot," said Ekimov.
"His results, his power and endurance, but most of all his character match perfectly with our group. I believe we have not seen everything Rein has to give. I look forward to working with him in the near future."
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