The 2023 International Cycling Union (UCI) Tour of Estonia is due to get underway this Friday. 15 teams will start the competition, two of which are from Estonia – the Estonian team and Tartu 2024.
The Tour of Estonia, which is the largest cycling race in the Baltics, is set to take place in Tallinn and Tartu on May 26-27. The Estonian team, led by Norman Vahtra, Karl Patrick Lauk and Martin Laas, are among the favorites to take victory in this year's event.
According to Alo Jakin, the Estonian team's sporting director, the competition will be strong, starting with the ATT Investments team led by Gert Kivistik and 2019 Tour winner Mihkel Räime. "Romania's Eduard Grosu, winner of the 2014 Tour of Estonia, representing the HRE Mazowsze Serce Polski team this time, will also be tough [to beat]," said Jakin.
Jakin also singled out Filippo Fortin from the German team Maloja Pushbikers. "I've ridden with him myself and I know that he is an experienced Italian rider with a sharp foot. From the Tartu 2024 team, I would highlight names like [Aaron] Aus and [Markus] Pajur. There aren't many teams, but there is someone in every team who can ride," said Jakin.
"The lack of a prologue makes the gaps even smaller and the first stage starts from scratch. The prologue gives you an idea of who will make it and who won't. But, the first stage is a lottery now and the shirts will be handed out at the end of it," added Jakin.
"[Martin] Laas will be our 'finisher', but you never know what the weather will bring. As always, the biggest factor is the wind," Jakin said.
The second stage of this year's Tour of Estonia is in Tartu, with each lap requiring competitors to negotiate the cobbled climb to reach the finish line. "This climb is good in the sense that you can force decent gaps. Especially after the climb, where you get the 'rubber band' effect, where some riders are still on the climb and the first ones are already descending," Jakin explained.
Tour of Estonia race director Indrek Kelk is also looking forward to seeing a showdown between some of the race's previous winners and the other strong riders taking part this year. "It's great to see a lot of Estonian riders on the start line," said Kelk.
In addition to the Tour of Estonia for male cyclists, the second ever Ladies Tour of Estonia will also take place on May 27. "Once again, we are inviting spectators to come along and cheer on all the riders!" Kelk said.
Editor: Michael Cole