Rait Ärm triumphed in the Baltic Chain Tour, offering mind-boggling speeds

On the anniversary of the restoration of Estonian independence, August 20th, the UCI 2.2 category multi-stage race, the Baltic Chain Tour, concluded in Panevežys, Lithuania, after three days. Rait Ärm (Estonian national team) claimed victory in the overall standings for the second consecutive year, edging out German rider Henri Uhlig from Alpecin-Deceuninck’s development team by two seconds.

Similar to the first two days in Estonia and Latvia, a fairly large group of escapees formed today as well. Even before the first intermediate sprint at the 35th kilometer, there were 15 riders in the lead. Among them was the sixth-placed rider in the general classification, David van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck Development Team), which meant that the Estonian national team had to work in the main group to defend the leader’s jersey.

The escapees weren’t allowed to gain much distance, at most a minute, but the pace of the leading group was so high that the main group couldn’t catch them either. The 157 km stage, which unfolded in calm wind conditions, saw an impressive average speed of 49.76 km/h!

In all three intermediate sprints, Siim Kiskonen (Tartu2024 Cycling Team) launched attacks from the group of escapees. Two wins and one second-place secured him the green jersey for the intermediate sprints.

Kiskonen had the strength to attack even in the final kilometer when the main group was closing in on the escapees. He fell just a few dozen meters short of victory, as faster sprinters passed him only then. The winner was the young Dane Mads Landbo (Uno-X Dare Development Team), who had finished third the previous day in Sigulda. His winning time was 3:09.17. He was followed by Italian rider Filippo Fortin and Dutch rider Roy Eefting (both from Maloja Pushbikers). Kiskonen finished fifth, Markus Pajur (Tartu2024) sixth, and Rait Ärm, who successfully defended the leader’s jersey, finished eighth.

In the overall classification of the cycling tour, Ärm’s lead over the best young rider Henri Uhlig was two seconds, and over Filippo Fortin, 14 seconds. The winner’s awe-inspiring average speed was 48.9 km/h! The fastest Baltic Tour in history and possibly one of the fastest UCI category cycling tours overall.

In the team standings, Uno-X Dare’s development team secured the first place, narrowly beating Tartu2024 Cycling Team.

Out of the 141 cyclists who started the cycling tour, 131 reached the finish line.