Eritrea’s Girmay wins his second stage on this Tour de France

COLOMBEY-LES-DEUX-EGLISES, France (AP) — Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay won a second stage at the Tour de France on Saturday when he edged a closing sprint to cement his status as the race’s fastest man.

Two-time Tour champion Tadej Pogacar kept the yellow jersey.

Girmay, who became the first Black rider to win a Tour stage this week, timed his effort perfectly at the end of the long stretch of road leading to the finish of Stage 8.

“To win one stage is already unbelievable, and winning a second stage while wearing the green jersey even more so,” Girmay said.

The tough false flat finish suited his style, and he made the most of it to beat Jasper Philipsen and Arnaud De Lie, extending his lead at the top of the rankings for the best sprinter’s green jersey.

“Today’s finish was perfect for me and I was super confident,” Girmay said. “I guess also then, the Tour de France being one of the hardest races in the world, once you win a stage you become aware that you are amongst the very best and that spurs you on.”

The stage finished in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, the home and final resting place of the late Charles de Gaulle. The former French President launched the French Resistance from a base in London and along with the Allies liberated France from the Nazis in 1944.

There was no major change in the general classification. Pogacar kept a 33-second lead over Remco Evenepoel, and two-time defending champion Jonas Vingegaard was in third place, lagging 1:15 behind.

The stage started with a high-octane pace as three riders — Neilson Powless, Stefan Bissegger, Jonas Abrahamsen — immediately jumped out of the peloton to open a 30-second gap at the front.

Despite having two men in the breakaway, EF Education-EasyPost riders later attacked from the main pack on hilly, wet roads and a group including Mark Cavendish got dropped.

Chasing points in the best climber’s classification, Abrahamsen went solo to the top of the Cote de Vitteaux and added more points on the slopes of the Cote de Verrey-sous-Salmaise and the following hills to further cement his polka dot jersey.

Helped by his teammates, Cavendish later merged with the yellow jersey group while Bissegger and Powless sat up. Meanwhile, Abrahamsen kept pushing hard on the pedals to increase his lead.

The pace of the peloton picked up in the second half of the stage and Abrahamsen’s long solo effort was brought to an end by the chase about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the finish before sprinters took center stage.

There’s a tough stage on Sunday that takes the riders on a nearly 200-kilometre (124-mile) trek through the dust of the gravel roads near the Champagne city of Troyes. There will be 14 sections of so-called white roads — including six in the stage finale — that have become a trademark of Italy’s Strade Bianche.

Girmay also made history in Italy two years ago when he won a stage at the Giro d’Italia to become the first Black African to take a victory in a Grand Tour. But Girmay’s Giro victory was marred when he was rushed to a hospital after getting hit in the left eye by a prosecco cork he popped open during the podium celebration — forcing him to abandon the race.

Also in 2022, Girmay became the first rider from a sub-Saharan country to win a single-day classic at the Gent-Wevelgem race.

Riders from only one other African country — South Africa — have won Tour stages: Robert Hunter (2007) and Daryl Impey (2019). Four-time Tour champion Chris Froome was born and raised in Kenya but represented Britain.


AP cycling:

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