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Intermarche - Wanty team's Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay cycles to the finish line ahead of second-placed Movistar Team's Colombian rider Fernando Gaviria (R) and third-placed Lotto Dstny team's Belgian rider Arnaud De Lie (L) to win the 3rd stage of the 111th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, 230,5 km between Piacenza and Turin, in Italy. /CFP

Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay makes history at Tour de France

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Trailblazing Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay made history as the first black African to win a stage at the Tour de France on Monday.

Girmay fended off a challenge by Fernando Gaviria of Colombia and Belgium’s Arnaud de Lie to win a reduced bunch sprint and claim stage 3 of this year’s event.

A tearful Girmay was embraced by his teammates and competitors after crossing the finish line. In an equally emotional post-race interview, the 24-year-old dedicated his victory “for all Africa”.

“I can’t believe it, to win (at the) Tour de France (in my) second year in the big bunch sprint. Yeah, for me it was unbelievable.”

“I just want to say thank you to my family, my wife, all the Eritreans and Africans. We must be proud. Now, we are really part of the big races. Now, it’s our moment, it’s our time.”

Girmay took to social media to express hope that his victory would be the first of many more by the continent’s Black cyclists. South Africans Robbie Hunter and Daryl Impey have previously won stage victories in the Tour de France, but they are white.

“Let me open the door,” he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

FILE PHOTO: Girmay made history as the first black African winner of a Grand Tour stage at the Giro d’Italia in 2022. /CFP

Girmay’s win was also a historic first for his cycling team, Intermarché-Wanty.

“I just want to say congrats to my whole team, especially Jean-Francois (Bourlart), because we didn’t have a victory in Tour de France, here, but now it’s our moment. I’m super happy.”

Girmay’s achievement was celebrated across the continent. The Eritrean government posted a tribute titled “A star that shines like a diamond” on its official X account, while many Eritreans also posted congratulatory messages on social media.

African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat also applauded Girmay saying: “Immense pride as Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay becomes the first Black African to win a Stage – the 3rd, and also the longest leg of this year’s prestigious Tour De France spanning 231km. Biniam’s inspiring personal achievement also marks a historic moment for his country and indeed across all of Africa. Congratulations!”

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