Biniam Girmay takes second place in tough race

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Stage 3 winner Biniyam Girmay returned to victory at the Tour de France on Saturday, putting in a great performance on the climb to reach the line at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises.

The Intermarché-Wanty rider overtook last year’s green jersey winner Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) in a drag race, was slightly behind when the sprint started but gradually pulled ahead to win by half a bike length.

Belgian champion Arnaud de Lee (Lotto Dastany) was moving quickly but was stuck between two riders and had no room to move forward.

“It’s unbelievable. Winning twice… I don’t know what to say? I just want to say thank you to God for everything,” Girmay said shortly after the match ended.

“I think I owe this victory to my mother and father. They believed in me. They supported me a lot in becoming a cyclist and turning professional. I just want to say thank you very much to my family, I am very proud.”

The win strengthened Giromé’s hold on the green jersey, and was the second victory by a black African rider in Tour de France history.

Girme is leaner than the other runners and agrees the finish was perfect for him.

“That’s why I won,” he said, smiling. “I like this kind of sprint because if it’s really flat, the other guys are bigger and heavier than me, so they can put out more watts and go faster. But for me with my weight this finish is great.

Race leader Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) kept himself out of any trouble, jumping out to the lead early on when there were several attempts to reach the early break. He remained safe throughout and finished 13th, three places behind his closest rival Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step).

Heading into Sunday’s gravel sector stage, Pogacar is 33 seconds ahead of him in the overall standings.

“I am happy with the team’s performance,” he said. “Tomorrow is a tense and nervous day and we have to be focused from start to finish. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

“I did the reconnaissance just like any other gravel stage. Lots of gravel,” he laughed. “Tomorrow maybe the wind or rain could be a factor, we’ll see how it goes.”

Long, lonely breakaway pads lead the mountains but are pulled back

Uno-X Mobility rider Jonas Abrahamsen extended his lead at the King of the Mountains with a strong solo break. (Photo: Anne-Christine Pojoulat/AFP)

Stage 8 of the Tour de France was a bumpy 183.4km climb from Semur-en-Auxois to Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises. It included five categorised climbs, but there were also many more hills that were not officially named, and which contributed to an elevation gain of 2,300m. There was also a slight uphill climb to the finish line.

A bunch sprint was predicted, but there were also chances for a breakaway. Three men took a clear lead after the flag dropped, with KOM leader Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility) teaming up with EF Education-EasyPost pair Nielsen Powless and Stefan Bissegger.

They opened up a lead of over two minutes, with another EF Education-EasyPost pair Ben Healy and Alberto Bettiol and Steve Williams (Israel Premier Tech) trying unsuccessfully to bridge. Abrahamsen was moving quickly and overtook Powless and Bissegger with around 30km to go.

He took more mountain points, increasing his lead to over six minutes, but the sprinter teams gradually turned their influence around and reduced his lead to half a minute with 17.2km remaining. He was finally overtaken with 15km to go.

The sprinters’ teams kept moving forward, with GC teams like Ineos Grenadiers joining in. Sam Bennett’s Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale team had him in the lead towards the kite, but fell behind in the final kilometer.

Girmay’s Intermarché-Wanty team took the lead and the Eritrean produced an impressive run, overtaking Philipson on the way to the line and recording another sensational win.

The win took his points total to 216, far surpassing the 128 points of the previous year’s winner, Phillipson.

“I felt really proud to win the green jersey,” he said. “I think it hasn’t happened very often. For me my plan was to first win a stage of the Tour de France and then wear the jersey.

“It’s absolutely fine to win and get more points.”

He described himself as “extremely happy” and said he had already achieved his goals.

“I think it’s almost done now,” he said. “If I still progress to Nice without a win, I’ll be very happy.”

However, don’t expect them to sit back. They have the speed and pace to win and defend more stages. Green jersey This is becoming increasingly important and possible.


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