Biniam Girmay: Africa’s Rising Cyclist Making a Difference

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Cycling isn’t the most popular sport in Africa. It’s thought to be an elite sport due to its financial demands. That said, cycling is the most popular sport in Eritrea. The Italians introduced it during colonial times. One of the things that’s made it widespread is that most Eritreans use bicycles as a means of transport. 

This partly explains Biniam Girmay’s interest in pursuing competitive cycling. He’s putting the continent on the map in a niche sport. Let’s learn more about him.

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Biniam Girmay’s Background

Biniam was born on 2 April 2000 in Asmara, Eritrea. He’s the second born of six siblings. His father and his older brother influenced him to get into the sport. Growing up, Biniam spent part of his time watching Tour de France

That said, he admits that he wasn’t really focused on it until he saw two Eritreans – Merhawi Kudus and Daniel Teklehaimanot – who competed at the event in 2015. This was the beginning for him.

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Career

Biniam Girmay: Africa’s Rising Cyclist Making a Difference
Biniam Girmay crossing the finishing line. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

Girmay began racing for fun. He then went to Europe and joined the UCI World’s Cycling Center in Switzerland. This step came with significant challenges for the Eritrean cyclist.

‘It was a big change in my life. I was the only one from Eritrea. The first months were so difficult I just wanted to go home. However, because I like to race and live my dream, I endured the challenges of communication and living alone.”

Throughout the year, Biniam posted outstanding times in races. He was the cycling champion of Africa after winning the road race, time trial, and team time trial. Additionally, Biniam caught the eye after he defeated one of the biggest names in Remco Evenepoel.

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Breakthrough

After a scintillating 2018 and 2019, Biniam Girmay was signed by French ProTeam Niko Delco One Provence. However, he didn’t stay long with the team as he experienced some financial problems. He then moved to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, although UAE Team Emirates was interested in him. 

The African cyclist made his debut with the team at the 2021 Tour de Pologne. He then raced at the U23 UCI Road World Championship and was the first black African rider to make it to the podium in the competition’s history. 

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More History By Biniam

Team Performance Manager at Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Luc Cheilan believes Biniam is a special talent who can win more. In 2022, Girmay continued to write history. He became the first African to win the Classic Cycle Race, the Gent-Wevelgem. 

Biniam competed in his first Grand Tour at the Giro d’Italia. He came second in stage 1 behind Mathieu Van der Poel, he finished in the top five four times and won his first grand tour stage, beating Van der Poel in stage 10. 

In 2023, Biniam Girmay raced at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Tour de Suisse and entered his first Tour de France as the team leader of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. Girmay was the only black rider in the race

Biniam Girmay hopes to achieve more as he builds his cycling career. Eventually, he hopes to contribute to the professional development of the sport in Eritrea. 

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