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Tour de France: Eritrea's Biniam Girmay triumphs with second sprint victory on stage 8

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Saturday, 06 July 2024

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Biniam Girmay takes his 2nd stage win in this Tour.

Tour de France: Biniam Girmay triumphs with second sprint victory on stage 8

Jasper Philipsen settles for second, Arnaud De Lie third in uphill sprint into Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises

Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) seized his second sprint win at the Tour de France on stage 8 in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, as the Eritrean rider outsprinted Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceununck) in second and Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Dstny) and third.

Girmay sat in the wheels of Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), having seemed boxed in on the shallow rise to the finishing straight. Philipsen seemed to sprint through both Girmay and Coquard, but a resurgence from Girmay saw him surge back to cinch the victory just ahead of the Belgian.

The sprint stage was an unexpectedly orderly one, with a sole breakaway from polka dot jersey wearer Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility) pulled in with 5km remaining.

Girmay has already made history at the Tour de France as the first Black African to claim a stage at the Tour on stage 3, only days before Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan) broke the all-time record of stage wins.

Girmay sits at the top of the green jersey sprinters’ points competition, with all signs pointing to him as a favourite to keep hold of it.

The peloton set off below a dreary grey sky in Semur-en-Auxois as torrential rain hammered down on the sign-on ceremony.

However, the wet conditions softened to purely grey and dry as the peloton began to wind on its course north to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises.

An attack burst out of the blocks from polka dot jersey wearer Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility), and he was soon joined by EF Education-EasyPost teammates Stefan Bissegger and Neilson Powless.

Given the anticipated showdown between breakaway and sprint teams on the lumpy stage 8, it was a surprise there was little or no response in the peloton, and the three riders soon established themselves as the early breakaway of the day.

Abrahamsen was heard telling Powless of his hopes of a larger group, but aside from a brief and unsuccessful pursuit from Quentin Pacher of Groupama-FDJ, the three were left undisturbed into the day’s first climb.

The category three Côte de Vitteaux came around 20km into racing, and the small breakaway had a two-minute gap on a lackadaisical peloton.

Barely 10km later, on the second ascent of the day - Côte de Villy-en-Auxois - Abrahamsen moved clear of the EF duo, who soon sat up to drift back to the peloton. That left the young Norwegian out alone, but seemingly up to the challenge as he swept up both KOM and sprint points - competitions he sits first and second in, respectively.

Abrahamsen battled hard over the next 80km, managing to pull out a gap of over six minutes, and he held more than four minutes over the peloton as the 50km approached.

Within the peloton Lotto-Dstny were conspicuous at the front, seemingly favouring their sprinter Arnaud Di Lie for stage victory. However as the stage wore on Alpecin-Deceuninck began to work for Jasper Philipsen, as did Intermarché-Wanty for Biniam Girmay and Cofidis for Bryan Coquard.

The peloton began to cut into Abrahamsen’s lead as the Uno-X rider approached the 25km mark, cutting it down from four minutes to barely over one. Heavy rainfall opened on the race once again, and with 25km remaining, the uncategorised undulations of the day’ course saw not only Abrahamsen pulled back to within a minute, but many riders shed from the back of the peloton, notable amongst them were Michael Matthews (Jayco AlUla) and Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates).

With 20km left, the gap to the sole breakaway rider was only 30 seconds, and the catch seemed imminent as the sprint teams began to coordinate their efforts for the battle of the lead-out trains.

The final climb just within 15km was enough to call time on the day’s admirable breakaway, and the sprint battle began to unfold.

Astana Qazqastan, Jayco-Alula, Intermarché-Wanty and Lotto-Dstny all mobilising at the front of the race, as were EF Education-Easypost - confident that the undulations of the final 10km could favour Marijn van den Berg.

Aside from Fabio Jakobsen (dsm–firmenich PostNL), though, the terrain and persistent headwind weren’t enough to remove the major fast men from contention as the peloton rolled below the Flamme Rouge and mass sprint began.
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