Over the winter, Girmay said he took advantage of the warm weather in Eritrea at that time of year to get in some good training blocks as well as putting more emphasis on gym work.
Meanwhile, he and the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team have continued to build a small but effective lead-out train, with riders like former Hungarian National Champion Barnabas Péak helping Girmay in the final kilometres.
"He learned a lot at Delko and took a good step up with us last year and this year we’re hoping he takes another with us," Steve De Neef, directeur sportif at Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, tells Cyclingnews.
While it is far too early to begin to think about comparisons with Peter Sagan, De Neef admits there are some similarities in their abilities.
"He can get over the four to five-kilometre long climbs, so a race like the Ruta should suit him. But I think we still have to find out a lot about him as a racer. It’s early days."
In the sprints, De Geef says the team are working to keep Girmay protected rather than letting him fend for himself as some sprinters prefer to do.
"The speed’s so high nowadays that if you’re out of position it’s really difficult to get back in again. I think everybody needs that support," he explained.
Girmay earns praise from his director for being willing to pitch in and help other riders on the team when it’s clear that he cannot succeed himself.
The Clásica Jaén was a good example of that, where Girmay, who had never raced on gravel roads before, worked for Loic Vliegen, who went on to finish third behind Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Qazakstan) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal).
"He saw it was too difficult for him so he gave his full support to the other guys," De Neef told Cyclingnews. "But now [at the Ruta] he’s got some good stage racing for him."
De Neef says it’s too early to say what kind of role Girmay might play at Milan-San Remo, particularly when the team also will field a former winner in Alexander Kristoff. Furthermore, Kristoff is clearly currently in excellent form, having just won the Clásica de Almería.
While Paris-Nice and the Giro d’Italia are also possibilities, one race stands out for Girmay. He is determined to return to the World Championships after coming so close to winning a world title last year.
"I’m really looking forward to it in Australia and I think I’ll have a good chance, and I’d like to get more experience at it," Girmay said, keen pull on the rainbow jersey that a certain Peter Sagan held for three straight years.