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Anticipation builds ahead of 2022 debut for sprinting ace Biniam Girmay

After winning Eritrea's first world championships medal, Girmay poised to blaze new trails in the bunch sprints.

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Anticipation is building around the 2022 season debut for Biniam Girmay this week at the Mallorca Challenge.

Considered by many to be Africa’s top sprinting prospect in a generation, the 21-year-old Girmay is expected to see plenty of chances in the first half of 2022, with likely stops at Milano-Sanremo and the Giro d’Italia.

“I feel ready to win races with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux this season,” Girmay said. “I’m very satisfied about how we prepared the season.”

Also read: Making history for Eritrea at the world championships

The Eritrean joined Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux midway through 2021, and soon made headlines when he won silver in the U23 elite men’s race to claim the first world championships medal for the cycling-crazed African nation.

Girmay won four races in Africa, and then claimed his first pro win in Europe last year with a stage victory at the Classic Grand Besançon Doubs in September.

Girmay is coming off a team camp where he had to chance to finally meet everyone among the staffer and riders.

“We are already quite close, and actually I have good contact with all team members. It was good to meet all riders and staff out of a competition context this winter,” he said in a team note. “There’s nothing better than having a coffee together after training to unite a group. The more time I spend with the team, the more I feel like home. This is a very important factor for me, as I spend a lot of time far away from my family.”

Girmay will share sprinter duties with Alexander Kristoff and Boy Van Poppel, but there will be plenty of opportunities across the sprawling calendar.

“There is a clear strategy and all riders know what is expected from them and which roles they have to accomplish,” he said. “For example, I know that I can very often rely on Barnabás Peák as lead out. I’m convinced that the support of a lead out rider like Barnabás can make the difference between a top 10 and a podium.”

The Belgian WorldTour team is optimistic he will deliver some big wins in 2022.

“I also expect Biniam Girmay to deliver good performances from the season start,” said sport director Aike Visbeek. “We managed to prepare the season as planned this winter and I again noticed that both riders and staff are making steps forward. We’re ready for this first test on Mallorca.”

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert January Training Camp - L'Alfàs del Pi, Spain held on 14/01/2022_SPAIN,L'Alfàs del Pi. (). Biniam GHIRMAY HAILU (Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux)
Biniam Ghirmay is hoping to deliver some big wins in 2022. (Photo: Photo by Alessandro Volders / @cyclingmedia_agency)