Home Sport Girmay Emotional as he take takes centre stage with first triumph

Girmay Emotional as he take takes centre stage with first triumph

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Biniam Girmay, who was already the first black African to win a grand tour stage at the 2022 Giro d’Italia, timed his effort to perfection to beat Colombian Fernando Gaviria and Belgian Arnaud de Lie, second and third respectively.

Intermarche -Wanty team’s Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay (centre) cycles to the finish line ahead of second-placed Movistar Team’s Colombian rider Fernando Gaviria (3rd from right) and third-placed Lotto Dstny team’s Belgian rider Arnaud De Lie (left) to win the third stage of the 111th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, 230.5km between Piacenza and Turin, in Italy, on July 1, 2024. Picture: Marco BERTORELLO, AFP

Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay became the first black African rider to win a stage on the Tour de France when he prevailed in a reduced bunch sprint at the end of the third stage on Monday.

Girmay, who was already the first black African to win a grand tour stage at the 2022 Giro d’Italia, timed his effort to perfection to beat Colombian Fernando Gaviria and Belgian Arnaud de Lie, second and third respectively.

Richard Carapaz took the overall lead, becoming the first rider from Ecuador to wear the yellow jersey, which he snatched from the shoulders of Tadej Pogacar on added places without time differences.

Pre-stage favourite Jasper Philipsen of Belgium was involved in a huge crash with 2.3km left of the stage.

Pogacar, as well as defending champion Jonas Vingegaard, were unaffected as Carapaz fought his way to the front of the peloton to make sure he would claim the yellow jersey.

In a very nervy sprint, Girmay was close to the safety barriers but kept his cool to give his Intermarche-Wanty team their first victory on the Tour.

“To be part of the Tour de France is already incredible. I was dreaming of taking part and now I can’t control my emotions,” a teary-eyed Girmay said.

“With my first Tour last year, I acquired experience and I manage everything better. Winning today is unbelievable.

“To be honest, when I went to the Giro I knew I had the level to fight for the win but for the Tour I was thinking I would have to wait (until) 2025, 2026. To win a stage where all the best sprint specialists are present is unbelievable.”

With no champagne on the podium, Girmay was unlikely to suffer the same fate as at the 2022 Giro when he had to pull out of the race after a Prosecco cork flew into his eye on the podium.

Girmay’s win is something of a watershed moment for cycling’s most famous race. Only two other African riders, both white – Robbie Hunter and Daryl Impey of South Africa – had previously won stages on the Tour.

On Monday, France’s Fabien Grellier was the only rider to break away, with 66km left, and he collected a €2,000 prize for the most aggressive rider of the day.

The peloton kept the TotalEnergie rider on a tight leash through the Barbaresco vineyards, and reined him in 29km from the line.

Chaos ensued in the lead-up to the final sprint, however, with a massive pile-up meaning several pre-stage favourites were held up behind the group who battled it out for the win.

The race will now head for the high mountains, notably climbing the lung-busting Col du Galibier, in Tuesday’s fourth stage as the peloton enters France with a stage finish in Valloire after a 139.6km ride from Pinerolo.

While he celebrated claiming the yellow jersey, Carapaz knew he would not keep it too long as Pogacar and Vingegaard are expected to be on the attack on Tuesday.

“Great day for Ecuador, for me, for my team. It’s a dream, the Tour is the biggest race of the world,” said Carapaz.

“The team did a great job, it’s historical. We want to keep this jersey but tomorrow is a tough day and we’ve seen that Vingegaard and Pogacar are in great shape. Whether I keep the jersey a day or week, it will be fantastic.”

Reuters

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