National Team of Estonia will gather in Tartu in a few weeks to defend their first-place title they won at Baltic Chain Tour in 2022. For the first time, the adult national team will feature Romet Pajur, who was ranked in the top ten of the junior world ranking last year.
“The current lineup that has been announced for the Baltic Chain Tour may not be final, but four men are more or less confirmed: Norman Vahtra, Rait Ärm, Gleb Karpenko, and Romet Pajur,” revealed Estonian team coach Alo Jakin. “Pajur, who is competing among men for the first year, will return from the U23 World Championships. At least, that’s the current plan. He has had some issues during the season, but hopefully, everything will go smoothly now.”
At just 18 years old, Pajur made a fantastic breakthrough last year as part of the Bora-Hansgrohe junior team(Team Auto Eder), achieving 11 podium finishes in international competitions and finishing in the top six twice in the title competitions. Joining the ranks of the men hasn’t been entirely smooth, but time will tell. The strong desire led to setbacks in the first half of the year, but things are now under control. His first test with the Estonian national team promises to be in a supportive role.
“Regardless of the composition of the Estonian team, the goal is to win, and Norman Vahtra will be the leader of the team,” Jakin gave a clear hint, indicating who will be the key player for the team. “Looking at the results, Norman is currently in the best shape among the team members, and it would be very satisfying to secure a victory in the home test of good form. It is possible that both Martin Laas and Karl Patrick Lauk will ride for the team, but their addition won’t change Vahtra’s role. It would simply make the team even stronger and more powerful,” added Jakin.
Vahtra, who rides for the Go Sport – Roubaix Lille Metropole professional team in France, has had a consistently good season this year. In 1.2 category one-day races in Belgium and France, he has reached the podium twice, and in May, he performed well in the Tour of Estonia, finishing third overall. To take a step up in the club level, he needs to achieve more successes in the second half of the season in UCI races, and the Baltic Chain Cycling Tour offers a great opportunity for that.
Last year, the Estonian team achieved a one-two victory in the cycling tour, with Rait Ärm and Martin Laas taking the top two spots. This year, winning will be more challenging, as a total of 24 teams are expected to compete, and one of the most competitive teams after Alpecin-Deceuninck’s junior team is ATT Investments from the Czech Republic, which also includes Mihkel Räim and Gert Kivistik, Tartu2024 Cycling Team, Uno-X junior team, German team Maloja Pushbikers, and Canadian-registered Team Ecoflo-Chronos.
The Baltic Chain Cycling Tour starts on August 18th from Tartu, passing through Valga and Sigulda to reach Panevežys by August 20th. On August 17th, in the late afternoon, a ceremonial introduction of the teams will take place at the Estonian National Museum (ERM). Interested spectators can attend for free; they just need to show up!