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Mihkel Räim signs with Polish Continental squad Mazowsze Serce Polski

Jayco Herald Sun Tour 2020 4th stage Mansfield Mount Buller 1066 km 08022020 Mihkel Raim EST Israel StartUp Nation photo Con ChronisBettiniPhoto2020
Räim in action for Israel Start-Up Nation at the 2020 Jayco Herald Sun Tour (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Mihkel Räim has found a new team for the 2021 season, signing with Polish Continental squad Mazowsze Serce Polski.

The Estonian, who had raced for Israel Start-Up Nation since the team competed in the Continental ranks back in 2016, found himself out of contract at the end of 2020 and was still searching for a team at the start of February.

The 27-year-old announced the move on his Twitter account, calling Mazowsze 'the people who saved my career'.

"My friends... Let me introduce you to the people who saved my career!" he wrote. "Here it @MazowszeCycling! My new team for 2021, I'm excited like getting my first pro contract.

"I believe I have so much to give and also I can learn something, maybe end of the year I'll speak fluent Polish."

Räim, who had previously raced for Amore e Vita and French amateur team Pro Immo, has twice been Estonian national champion, also winning the Tours of Estonia and Hungary.

Last year, he took a stage win at the Tour of Antalya and also took part in his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España. Other career highlights have included stage wins at the Colorado Classic, Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, and the Tours of Korea and Japan.

Cyclingnews spoke to Räim about his contract search last week, with the Estonian calling the search a "nightmare". He had planned to head back to Pro Immo if his 'plan A' of racing at Continental level didn't come to fruition.

"I said to myself, ‘OK, I can do one year at Conti level and maybe if something opens up during the season, I can find a better contract. But even to find a Conti team at the moment is a nightmare," Räim said.

"At first, I was looking at WorldTour teams with my agent, but then I realised it wasn’t going to happen. Then I was pretty sure some ProConti team in Spain or Italy would pick me up. I understood that I’d probably need to race on minimum wage but one year of that was OK for my brain. But there were no offers and no interest at all."

Räim will be the 17th rider on Mazowsze Serce Polski, joining ex-CCC Team rider Paweł Bernas, ex-Caja Rural rider Alan Banaszek, and ex-One Pro Cycling rider Karol Domagalski. Last year, the team took 13 wins, including the Tour of Szeklerland in Romania, Bosnian stage race Belgrade Banjaluka, and a stage at the Giro della Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia.

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