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QUEBEC, Canada (VN) — He came, he saw, he almost conquered. Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) blasted to third at Friday’s GP de Québec to find his groove ahead of this month’s world championships.
The 22-year-old confirmed his rising form just in time for a run at the rainbow jersey later this month when he kicked to third behind winner Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-Citroën) and Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco).
“I’m very happy with this third place at my first participation in the GP de Québec,” Girmay said. “It feels unreal to achieve a podium from such a strong field of riders with many of world’s best classic riders.”
- Girmay back to racing following freak eye injury
- Cosnefroy wins GP Québec in surprise attack
- Van Aert stymied in rare misfire with fourth
Girmay is using the pair of Canadian races this weekend to prepare for a return to the worlds.
Last year, he made history by becoming the first African to land on a worlds podium when he was second in the U23 men’s road race.
Coming into his first full WorldTour season, the Eritrean rider has continued to blaze trails, including winning Gent-Wevelgem in the spring classics and his first career grand tour stage at the Giro d’Italia in May.
After recovering from a freak accident when an exploding cork on the winner’s podium struck his eye, he returned to European racing in July. Though he has yet to win a race, he’s been banging into the top-5 consistently all summer.
A pair of crashes, however, set back his preparation for his highly anticipated debut in the elite men’s ranks in Wollongong, and Friday’s ride at Québec against a field stacked with worlds favorites confirmed he’s on rainbow jersey form.
“This is my preparation for the world championships, and that’s why we decided to race here,” Girmay said. “For the worlds, my shape is coming up, and I am happy with my performance right now. We hope to keep going like this all the way to Australia.”
Girmay: ‘The level was very high’
On Friday, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert protected Girmay all the way to the line.
Cosnefroy surprised the favorites with a long-range attack from 2km to go, and held on to celebrate his first win in 2022.
Girmay locked horns with Matthews and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), another worlds favorite, and came away with the podium in third.
“The level was very high and the pace was hard from the start,” Girmay said. “Of course we expected a challenging race on this course with several tricky corners and the long and steep climb towards the finish.
“My teammates did all the work for 90 percent of the race, and I only had to focus on the final 500 meters,” Girmay said. “I want to thank them for their work, this achievement is also for them.
“This is really something special. My season is going quite well, and especially today, this is the first time here for me and my team,” he said. “I think we hit our goal today by arriving to the podium.”
Next stop is the GP de Montréal on Sunday, and then it’s off to Australia.