Skip to main content

21-Year-Old Eritrean Rides Into Record Books

Published 3 months ago
By Lillian Roberts

Biniam Girmay, a professional road cyclist from Eritrea, wins one-day classic, scoring a first for Africa.

Topline

Biniam Girmay of Eritrea won the Gent-Wevelgem Classic in Belgium on March 27, becoming the first black African cyclist to win the race.

Key Facts

“This changes a lot in the future, especially for all African riders,” says the winner after his triumphant and tight race.

The one-day event was 248.8km, with Girmay sprinting to the finish line in the last 30km with four other riders, ultimately out-cycling the rest.

“It was solely within the remaining kilometers that I began to imagine within the victory,” he says.

Background

Prior to the win, Girmay came fifth at the midweek classic E3 race on Friday, March 26, held in Belgium.

The Gent-Wevelgem is seen as a precursor for one of Belgium’s biggest races, the Tour of Flanders, which is coming up next Sunday. However, Girmay will head home as planned, changing gears to spend time with family.

“Family is the most important. For me, my family is the first thing, even more than the bike, so I have to take care of them. For three months, my wife has been taking care of the baby and everything. I’m in good shape, but I’m still following my plan. We will [do the Tour of Flanders] in the future. This is the beginning, so we have a lot of time,” he told reporters at a press conference in Zedelgem on Monday.

Tangent

Girmay rides for UCI World Team Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux. He is 21 years old.

He joined the UCI WorldTeam in August 2021. He made an impression coming in the top ten on the Tour de Pologne. At the Druivenkoerse Overijse, he came seventh, securing a win a week later on the Classic Grand Besançon Doubs.

The very next day he took seventh in the Tour du Jura, and the following day, he took second place in Tour de Doubs. Additionally, Girmay took two fifth place finishes in one-day races Route Adélie de Vitré and Gran Peimonte, managing difficult and dangerous finishes.

It seems there’s no brakes for this Eritrean.

In September 2021, he was awarded the silver medal at the U23 World Championship in Leuven. He has made history already, becoming the first black African rider to earn a medal at the championship.

He was nominated to become African Cyclist of the Year by organizers of the Tropicale, Amissa Bonga, and won the title on December 14, 2021. The jury who decided his win is presided over by Bernard Hinault, a 5-time Tour de France winner. Girmay won the award for the second time in a row.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Daily Update

Get the best of Forbes Africa sent straight to your inbox with breaking business news, insights and updates from experts across the continent.
Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and services. By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
Related Topics: #Africa, #Coronavirus, #Coronavirus Outbreak, #Coronavirus Pandemic, #COVID-19, #Featured, #News Letter, #newsletter, #Nigeria, #South Africa.