Rait Ärm repeated last year’s feat and donned the leader’s jersey of the Baltic Chain Tour.

Today, the UCI 2.2 category Baltic Chain Tour’s first stage began in Tartu, with a distance of 199 km, finishing near Valga at the Jaanikese Motorsport Centre. Estonia’s national team member, Rait Ärm, claimed victory. Ärm also won the opening stage last year and later became the overall winner.

The stage was active from the beginning, but no one was allowed to break away significantly. It wasn’t until passing through Antsla, after covering 120 kilometers, that a proper breakaway formed. Almost unnoticed, a 15-member group pulled ahead, including representatives from the strongest teams. Estonians who made it into the decisive break were Rait Ärm (Estonia’s national team), Aaron Aus (Tartu2024 Cycling Team), Mihkel Räim (ATT Investments), and Ken Post (Peloton).
The gap quickly widened to over two minutes before the main group reacted. Catching up was extremely challenging due to the headwind and the high pace up front. The fastest average speed for the stage ended up being 48.83 km/h!

Nevertheless, five strong riders managed to reel in the leaders. A significant effort towards the chase was made by Markus Pajur (Tartu2024 Cycling Team), but the main driving force was the Norwegian rider, Daniel Aarnes, from the Uno-X Dare Development team. He launched the decisive attack just before the final moments, and only Rait Ärm managed to join him a little later. Other riders didn’t have such strength in their legs for the final kilometers, not even David van der Poel and Henri Uhlig of the Alpecin-Deceuninck Development team.

The fate of the first place was to be decided between these two. On the finishing ascent to the Jaanikese Motorsport Centre, Rait Ärm displayed clear dominance, crossing the line a couple of seconds ahead of hill climber Daniel Aarnes. The winning time was 4:04:30. Henri Uhlig finished third, 11 seconds behind, followed by Aaron Aus in fourth, Norwegian Kristoffer Skjerping (Kjekkas IF) in fifth, Italian Filippo Fortin (Maloja Pushbikers) in sixth, and Markus Pajur in seventh. The main group lost to the winner by nearly three minutes. A total of 137 riders reached the finish.

In the general classification, Ärm holds an 8-second lead over Aarnes and a 16-second lead over Uhlig. In addition to the leader’s jersey, Ärm also took the most consistent rider’s jersey, while Uhlig is leading in two classifications, being the most active rider and also the best young rider.

Tomorrow, the second stage of the tour will be held around Sigulda, with a length of 162 km. Live broadcasts of the tour can be followed on the Baltic Tour’s website and Facebook page (in English), as well as on the Delfi platform.