Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay Becomes First Black Cyclist to Win Tour de France 

Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay made history on Monday by becoming the first Black African rider and first Black cyclist from any continent to win a Tour stage, according to CBC

Girmay grew up in Eritrea, a country located in the Horn of Africa, where he would watch the Tour de France on TV every July with his father. Where he idolized three-time world champion Peter Sagan but never thought he would match the cyclist’s exploits.

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“I never dreamed to be part of [the] Tour de France,” Girmay said to The Associated Press after wiping away some tears.

Two years ago, Girmay also made history in Italy when he won a stage at the Giro d’Italia to become the first Black African to take a victory in a Grand Tour.

“This win is worth more,” Girmay said. “I don’t have words to explain how important this victory is for me and for my continent.”

Next year, Rwanda will be the first African country to host cycling’s road world championships.

Girmay began his cycling journey by riding in single-day races at home in Eritrea. He left home in 2018 for the International Cycling Union’s development centre in Aigle, Switzerland. 

In 2021, he won a silver medal in the under-23 road race at the world championships in Belgium. Girmay also won a single-day classic at the Gent-Wevelgem race in Belgium in 2022.

Merhawi Kudus and Daniel Teklehaimanot paved the way for Girmay when they became the first Eritreans to ride in the Tour de France in 2015,  where Teklehaimanot became the first African rider to wear the King of the Mountains polka-dot jersey. They rode for the South African MTN-Qhubeka team.

Girmay is now high up in the point standings for the Tour’s green jersey that goes to the race’s top sprinter. And there are a handful more sprinting stages to come in this year’s race.

“It’s my time,” Girmay said. “Now we are really part of the big races. We have a lot [of] victories so it’s our time, it’s our moment. I never cry, but inside I am, I just have no words.”