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Tour de France: Biniam Girmay, the pioneer of African sprinting

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Thursday, 04 July 2024

Tour de France: Biniam Girmay, the pioneer of African sprinting

 
Updated
 
04 Jul 2024 at 17:20 (UT) 
 
By
 
 
By François BENEYTOU

Eritrean sprinter Biniam Girmay with the green jersey after the 6th stage of the Tour de France, July 4, 2024 in Dijon

Eritrean sprinter Biniam Girmay with the green jersey after the 6th stage of the Tour de France, July 4, 2024 in Dijon

 
AFP
 

The first African rider to wear the green jersey, Eritrean Biniam Girmay, a national idol, confirmed his place in the great world of sprinters by taking, as boss, a first victory in the Tour in Turin.

Every evening, the atmosphere heats up around the Intermarché-Wanty team bus, thanks to the Eritrean diaspora who come to celebrate their champion, second in the sprint in Dijon on Thursday and firmly attached to his green jersey.

"Bini's" compatriots present in Turin on Monday after the third stage had reason to celebrate: the national star beat the other sprinters in the finale of the first flat stage of the biggest race in the world.

"There is a big Eritrean community here in Europe, it's a country where there aren't many idols, and it has become one," Aike Visbeek, the Belgian team's performance manager, explained to AFP.

In front of Evenepoel

"Now we are part of this great race. This is also your success, this is your moment," Girmay proclaimed after his triumph, addressing his compatriots.

"It means a lot to me to become the first black African rider to win the Tour de France," he added, overcome with emotion.

It must be said that the 24-year-old rider embodies African cycling, having seized his chance upon his arrival in the European peloton, after spending his afternoons watching the Tour with his father, who is a cycling enthusiast.

Supporters congratulate Eritrean sprinter Biniam Girmay after the 6th stage of the Tour de France, in Dijon, July 4, 2024

Supporters congratulate Eritrean sprinter Biniam Girmay after the 6th stage of the Tour de France, in Dijon, July 4, 2024

 
AFP
 

Spotted by Jean-Jacques Henry, detection officer for the World Centre of the International Cycling Union, based in Aigle, Switzerland, and who came to compete in his first races in Europe in 2018, Girmay immediately impressed.

"He was a rider who had great explosiveness, which we see today when he gets to the sprint," he believes, indicating that "when he was a junior, in the first year of U23, he really showed that he had the qualities to win on all terrains," with the exception of high mountains.

Jean-Jacques Henry even remembers one of the Eritrean's first exploits, against one of the big names in the current peloton.

"In juniors, Biniam went to do an international race in Belgium, and he was the only one who beat Evenepoel in a race where they both finished in a sprint," smiles the trainer.

2022, a magical year

Having played for the Marseille team Delko, he joined the Intermarché-Wanty Gobert team in 2021, and quickly made his mark.

Jean-Jacques Henry underlines his ability to "progress very quickly": "Biniam is very intelligent, when you give him an instruction he puts it into practice immediately".

Eritrean sprinter Biniam Girmay during the 6th stage of the Tour de France, between Mâcon and Dijon, on July 4, 2024

Eritrean sprinter Biniam Girmay during the 6th stage of the Tour de France, between Mâcon and Dijon, on July 4, 2024

 
AFP
 

Thanks to this, 2022 is a year of birth in the professional peloton for "Bini", who has enjoyed two prestigious successes. He won Ghent-Wevelgem in March before repeating the feat on the 10th stage of the Giro.

The joy was immense, although spoiled by a withdrawal following an injury caused by the cork of the prosecco offered to the winner, which hit his eye on the podium.

But the essential is there, with a grand arrival in the caste of powerful sprinters, capable of swallowing up the bumps without losing their speed.

"He is not a runner with a big burst of speed in a short sprint but if the acceleration is long, he can reach a very high speed," says Aike Visbeek.

Thanks to this speed, Girmay has convinced everyone in Turin and can aim even higher, according to the Dutch manager.

"The Tour of Flanders, Milan-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, maybe even the Amstel," he lists, not ruling out much for his rider. The latter is starting to get a taste for the green jersey, as evidenced by his presence in the intermediate sprints since his Turin success.

Supporters of Eritrean sprinter Biniam Girmay during the 6th stage of the Tour de France, in Dijon, July 4, 2024

Supporters of Eritrean sprinter Biniam Girmay during the 6th stage of the Tour de France, in Dijon, July 4, 2024

 
AFP
 

Enough to become a standard-bearer for African cycling and inspire a generation of riders, some of whom were present in Dijon on Thursday.

"I am so happy, it's historic," said Awet Aman Goniche, 21 and Eritrean champion in 2023. "About ten years ago Daniel Teklehaimanot made history by taking the best climber's jersey, now Biniam is doing it by winning a stage and taking the green jersey."


ሓይልን ጽባቐን ኤርትራዊት ጓል ኣንስተይቲ - መንእሰያት ደቂ ኣንስትዮ ሳዋ | Walta EDF TV show for July 14, 2024 - ERi-TV

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