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Tour de France Stage 8: Biniam Girmay Makes It Two with Classy Uphill Sprint Win

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Stage 3 winner Biniam Girmay triumphed again at the Tour de France on Saturday, proving best in an uphill sprint to the line in Colombey-Les-Deux-Églises.

The Intermarché-Wanty rider outpaced last year’s green jersey winner Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) in a drag race to the line, being slightly behind as the sprint opened but pulling gradually ahead to triumph by half a bike length.

Belgian champ Arnaud de Lie (Lotto Dstny) was moving quickly but got blocked in between the two riders and had nowhere to go.

“It’s unbelievable. To win two times…I don’t know, what can I say? I just want to say thanks God for everything,” Girmay said just after the finish.

“I think this victory I need to give to my mother, my father. They believed in me. They give all the support to become a cyclist, to become a professional. I just want to say thank you very much to my family, I am so proud.”

The victory tightened Girmay’s grip on the green jersey, and marked the second-ever win by a Black African rider in Tour de France history.

Girmay is a more lightly-built rider than many of the other sprinters and agreed with the suggestion that the finish was perfect for him.

“That is why I won,” he said with a smile. “I prefer this kind of sprint because if it is really flat, the other guys are bigger than me and heavier, so they can push more watts and go faster. But this finish for me with my weight is super nice.

Race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) steered clear of trouble, being close to the front early on when various moves were launched to try to get across to the early break. He stayed safe throughout and finished 13th, three places behind his closest rival Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step).

Pogačar remains 33 seconds ahead of him in the overall standings heading towards Sunday’s gravel sector stage.

“I am happy with how the team is,” he said. “Tomorrow is a stressful day, nervous, and we will need to be concentrated from zero to finish. We will see what happens tomorrow.

“I did the recon, like any other gravel stage. A lot of gravel,” he said with a laugh. “Tomorrow maybe the wind or rain can be a factor, we will see how it goes.”

Long, lone breakaway pads mountains lead but is hauled back

Uno-X Mobility team's Norwegian rider Jonas Abrahamsen cycles in a lone breakaway during the 8th stage of the 111th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, 183,5 km between Semur-en-Auxois and Colombey-les-deux-Eglises, on July 6, 2024. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)
Uno-X Mobility rider Jonas Abrahamsen extended his King of the Mountains advantage with a strong solo break. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

Stage 8 of the Tour de France was a lumpy 183.4km from Semur-en-Auxois to Colombey-Les-Deux-Églises. It featured five categorized climbs but also many more hills that weren’t given official designation, and which contributed to an elevation gain of 2,300 meters. There was also a slight rise to the finish line.

A bunch sprint was predicted, but a breakaway also had a chance. A three man escape went clear from the drop of the flag, with KOM leader Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility) combining with EF Education-EasyPost duo Neilson Powless and Stefan Bissegger.

They gained a lead of over two minutes, with another EF Education-EasyPost duo Ben Healy and Alberto Bettiol and Steve Williams (Israel Premier Tech) trying unsuccessfully to bridge across. Abrahamsen was flying and dropped Powless and Bisseger with approximately 30km covered.

He hoovered up more mountains points as his lead increased to over six minutes, but the sprinters teams gradually turned the screw and reduced his advantage to half a minute with 17.2km remaining. He was eventually reeled in just inside 15km to go.

The sprinters’ teams continued to drive onwards, with GC squads such as Ineos Grenadiers also mixing in. Sam Bennett’s Decathlon Ag2r La Mondiale team led them towards the kite, but he faded inside the final kilometer.

Girmay’s Intermarché-Wanty squad took over and the Eritrean then launched an impressive sprint, outpacing Philipsen on the rise to the line and landing another superb win.

The victory raised his points total to 216, far more than last year’s winner Philipsen, who is on 128.

“I was really proud to win in the green jersey,” he said. “I think it has not happened a lot of times. For me my plan was to first win one stage of the Tour de France and then to wear the jersey.

“To win and to gain more points is absolutely perfect.”

He described himself as ‘super happy,’ and said he has already achieved his goals.

“I think it is almost done now,” he said. “If I continue now to Nice, even without any victory, I will be just so happy.”

However don’t expect him to sit back. He’s got the speed and momentum to take more stages, and defending the maillot vert is both increasingly important and increasingly possible.

Read More:Tour de France Stage 8: Biniam Girmay Makes It Two with Classy Uphill Sprint Win