After holding fast to the front group on stage 7 in the first mountain top finish of the Tour de France, the race's best young rider Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis) nearly lost his grip on the classification in the undulating run from Belfort to Porrentruy on stage 8, but the Estonian is hoping for better stages ahead.
Taaramäe was dropped in the closing climbs of the 157km stage, but together with teammates Rémy Di Gregorio and David Moncoutie, he limited his losses to Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Nissan), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) and stage winner Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat) to hold onto the white jersey over Gallopin by 46 seconds. Pinot is now in third at 1:14 while the previous leader Van Garderen is fourth at 1:41.
"I hope to recover and have more good stages ahead," Taaramäe said, looking forward to the race's first long individual time trial tomorrow, the 41.5km stage from Arc-et-Senans to Besançon.
"I'm a little bit better time trialist than climber - I just hang on in the climbs, but in the time trial I can do good."
Last year the Estonian was 9th in the long time trial in Grenoble and placed 11th overall in the Tour. He is positioned well heading into the last critical stage before the first rest day of the race, having survived a crash-filled first week of the Tour.
"The first week is the hardest, guys are really nervous. Now they're like soldiers in the war," he commented on all the bandaged bodies that surround him in the peloton. "I have good eyes and I take no risks," he explained how he avoided the crashes.
The fact that Taaramäe is doing so well is all the more remarkable considering he suffered from mononucleosis earlier this year and a fractured hand as recently as May.
"I'm just happy to be here," he said. "It was really hard all May I spent riding on the home trainer. It's not the same sport. You're closed in your room and you just pedal with the mirror in front of you."
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