"If things don't go well at the Tour de France... Then it's two grand tours in a row that things don't work out" - Intermarche admit concern over Biniam Girmay

Whilst Biniam Girmay's career has been more success than not so far, it's fair to say the Eritrean has had something of a mixed bag in his Grand Tour appearances.

From the highs of his history-making stage win at the 2022 Giro d'Italia, where Girmay became the first black African to win a Grand Tour stage, to the immediate low that was the unforgettable podium celebration that ended his Giro d'Italia debut after receiving a champagne cork to the eye. Girmay then had a quiet Tour de France debut in 2023 before a pair of crashes ended the 24-year-old's Giro d'Italia return on stage 4 earlier this year.

"First of all, that fall caused disappointment. He came back to the Giro precisely because he hadn't been able to say goodbye in the ideal way last time, and now he was lying there," recalls Intermarché - Wanty's head of performance, Aike Visbeek in conversation with Wielerflits. "On the other hand, we had to be happy that the damage was not too bad and we can still get him ready for the Tour at all. We made a plan B, to let him regain confidence."

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At the upcoming Tour de France, Girmay will lead a two-pronged sprint attack for the team alongside Gerben Thijssen. Despite his Gio d'Italia crash, Visbeek remains optimistic about Girmay's form. "Conditionally, he hasn't lost much. He was in good form at the Giro and was able to recover from that fall for three days. We had to patch him up with osteopaths and physiotherapy, after which he ran some good training blocks. What struck me on the mental front is that Bini was very combative," he explains. "He started racing in the smaller Belgian one-day races again quite quickly and was able to win the Circuit Franco-Belge. That takes away some of the disappointment, it was a good boost."

There is a warning for Girmay and a tinge of concern in Visbeek's message however. "Because of that extra race block on Belgian soil, Bini stayed in Europe a week longer than planned. Now he is back in Eritrea to train at altitude for the Tour. The difference is that he will start the Tour slightly less in top form. He will need time to grow through the Tour. Or so we hope anyway," he concludes. "If things don't go well at the Tour de France, the disappointment will be even greater. Then it's two grand tours in a row that things don't work out for him. I hope he can finally do a lot of race days in a row."

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