Rein Taaramäe keeps Tour of Spain winner's shirt going into stage five

Rein Taaramäe.
Rein Taaramäe. Source: ERR

Cyclist Rein Taaramäe has retained the lead overnight at the Vuelta a España, and will wear the customary red shirt on Wednesday as well, despite falling less than three kilometers from the finish after touching wheels with a fellow racer while negotiating a bend.

Under the rules, since the fall happened within the last 3km and was within the winning group of riders, Taaramäe was given the same time as the stage winner, Fabio Jakobsen.

This means Taaramäe, 34, from Tartu, who races for the Intermarche – Wanty – Gobert Materiaux team, continues as race leader, 25 seconds ahead of Frenchman Kenny Elissonde and 30 seconds in front of Slovenian Primož Roglic.

Taaramäe, who first picked up the red shirt after winning Monday's stage, said that Wednesday's route is comparatively straightforward, meaning he should be able to protect his lead, though the Spanish climate can interfere with this.

"Spain is sometimes a desert, one where there is no forest, and the wind can blow a gale," he said after Tuesday's stage, adding that up to day seven of the race (Wednesday is day five - ed.), the leader's shirt should be passed around a close circle of competitors.

"There are some difficult uphill kilometers before the finish of the sixth day… we won't go all the way with [the leader's] shirt in any case, so I will just enjoy the moment," he said.

As to Tuesday, Taaramäe said that nerves got the better of him just ahead of his fall, adding that he was on superficially injured.

Wearing the red shirt also conferred some benefit in terms of race etiquette, he said.

"Other teams respect it and let go ahead," adding that the feeling of having won a stage – his third such accomplishment in his career – was like being on top of the world.

The 163.9km fourth stage was comparatively flat, while stage winner Jakobsen was able to pull away from the pack just before the finish, with a time of 3:43.07. 

Along with the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta makes up cycling's prestigious Grand Tours and passes through  Pyrenees, finishing in the capital, Madrid, over a three-week period.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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