Giro d’Italia: Biniam Girmay’s shot at Grand Tour history

Cycling
Biniam Girmay

Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay says it would be one of cycling’s “best moments” when the first black African rider wins a Grand Tour stage.

Girmay, 22, makes his Grand Tour debut at Friday’s Giro d’Italia Grand Partenza, where he is expected to challenge for the stage victory.

He became the first black African to win a World Tour race at Belgium’s Gent-Wevelgem classic in March.

“It’s going to be, I think, the best moment ever,” he said.

“It’s a dream of all African cyclists to win in a Grand Tour, especially the Tour [de France] or Giro. A black rider has never won a Grand Tour stage.”

Girmay, who rides for the Belgian Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert team, took a shock victory at Gent Wevelgem when he sprinted early for the line, beating established one-day classics riders, such as Jasper Stuyven of Trek-Segafredo.

The first stage of the three-week Giro begins in the Hungarian capital Budapest, before returning to Italy from stage four.

The stage’s 195km run to Visgrad is relatively flat, but ends with a category four climb in the final few kilometres, which is expected to suit Girmay.

And Girmay could even wear the famous race’s pink leader’s jersey if he wins the stage.

“For me [in my career], I need to win a Monument [one-day race],” Girmay said. “But even also a Grand Tour [stage] is always in my dream. From tomorrow it’s my dream to win one Grand Tour stage.

“The first Giro stage, is not so easy for a bunch sprint. But from my side it’s going to be good.”

Following his victory in Belgium, he returned to the Eritrean capital Asmara and spent four hours being greeted by several thousand fans waving flags and following him through the city.

“For me I was really surprised, I didn’t expect so many fans – it’s amazing, you know,” he said.

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