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Girmay is first African to win Gent-Wevelgem


Biniam Girmay of Eritrea won the Gent-Wevelgem cycling classic in Belgium on Sunday, becoming the first African cyclist to win a one-day classic.

“This changes a lot in the future, especially for all African riders,” the Team Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux rider said after his narrow and hard-fought triumph in the Belgian cobbled classic. “I felt confident over the last 250m, but I just came here for a good result — this is amazing.”

The 21-year-old Girmay was part of a four-rider breakaway in the final 30km of the epic 248.8km run, and sprung an early sprint from the back of his rivals 250m from the line.

Team Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux rider Biniam Girmay, left, celebrates his victory as he crosses the finish line of the Gent-Wevelgem in Belgium on Sunday.

Team Jumbo–Visma rider Christophe Laporte managed to follow Girmay and was centimeters from catching him, but the African rider edged the Frenchman to the line as a chasing pack of prerace favorites closed in too late.

“I suffered on the cobbles. It’s not exactly comfortable,” the 29-year-old Girmay said after his first race on a cobblestone surface.

“When it came to the sprint, I knew the others were strong, but I felt confident,” Girmay said.

Second-placed Laporte was furious with himself.

“I made a mistake. It should have been me launching the sprint,” said the 29-year-old, who missed victory by a whisker. “Chances like that don’t come up every day, but he came out really quickly and forced a gap — so, well done to him.”

Girmay was in the mix at Milan-San Remo and came fifth at the midweek classic E3 race.

He was also a triple African junior champion winning the road race, time trial and team time trial in 2018, before winning Africa’s first world championships medal when he took silver at the under-23’s last year.

This Gent-Wevelgem was considered a warm-up for what is perhaps Belgium’s biggest race: the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

Source: Taipei Times

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