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Mandri wins SEB Tartu Grand Prix
Estonian Rene Mandri won Saturday's SEB Tartu Grand Prix in his home country, capping a fine team performance in the 187km race, ranked 1.1in the UCI Europe Tour calendar.
The race started at a very fast pace, despite Friday's 180km Tallinn - Tartu Grand Prix being fresh in the legs. Alexander Wetterhall, 9th in Friday's race was first to make a move, taking the first King of the Mountains prize. An 11 strong break then formed which included Wetterhall along with Rene Mandri, Alexandre Blain and Zak Dempster. They were soon joined by Paul Voß and two others to take the group up to 14.
The time gaps steadily increased before Voß went on the attack and reduced the lead group behind him down to six riders including Mandri,
Wetterhall and Dempster. Mandri made the next move and built a small gap on the run in to the finish, crossing the line ahead of Blaz Furdi (Tirol Cycling Team) with Voß in 3rd place, Zak Dempster in 4th and Alexandre Blain 7th.
It was great to win front of the home crowd. It was a hard race which started in the rain which made the streets of Tartu very slippy. Halfway through the sun came out and there was an amazing crowd next to the road cheering me and Endura Racing.
We had five riders in the breakaway of 14 riders and we controlled it from the beginning and the bunch tried to chase us down with Champion Systems, Christaina Watches and Europcar driving it. After 100km of racing they cracked completely as we kept the pace high.
Alexandre Blain and Alexander Wetterhall cleaned up the intermediate sprints, then Paul Voß attacked with 33 km to go. When he got caught, we counterd with Wetterhall. We kept attacking the group front and 20km to go I escaped with another rider. In the last kilometres I could sit down and wait for the finish line to make the final acceleration. It feels great and huge thanks to the team who helped me to get it. It was a perfect teamwork.
We showed that we're a great team in Estonia! Everyone of us played their part. It was just a perfect day.
I'm happy with my third place. Before the Glava Tour of Norway I was sick, on antibiotics and couldn't train for four days. So I didn't expect that my legs would be that good. Already in Norway we rode really well and now in Estonia. I just enjoy it too race with the guys.
We were all very motivated for the SEB Tartu GP after our bad luck in the final stages of Tallinn - Tartu GP the day before, with puncture for Zak and a mechanical for me inside the last 3km.
We gave it a great go and on the second lap I attacked for the first hill, took it and got away with a small group. But we played it smart and added numbers to the group when riders came across and after three laps we had five Endura Racing riders in the break. We didn't get a good gap, even if the pace was super-high, until four laps to go when we decided to "let hell break lose". It worked out nicely - with Rene winning and Paul in 3rd, Zak in 4th, Alex in 7th and me in 11th. During the race we also managed to pick up all the sprint and hill premes available! It Felt awesome to be part of the great team performance, the best so far! And a good revenge from yesterday's bad luck.
Click here for results from the SEB Tartu Grand Prix.