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Trailblazing Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay oozes confidence ahead of Stage 10 of Tour de France

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Girmay leads in the points classification for the green jersey with 224 points, enjoying a healthy 96-point lead over second-placed Belgian cyclist Jasper Philipsen of the Alpecin-Deceuinck team who has 128 points. Norwegian Jonas Abrahamsen of Uno-X Mobility is third with 107 points.

History-making Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay is the man of the moment at the 2024 Tour de France after becoming first black African to win a stage in the world's most prestigious cycling competition when he powered to finish line to claim victory in Stage Three of the 3 498-kilometre race.

Girmay, cycling for a team called Eri/Intermarche-Wanty, clocked 5 hours 26 minutes 48 minutes to win the race's third stage which spans between the Italian cities of Piacenza and Turin, a distance of 230.8 kilometres.

More recognition was to follow for Girmay as his performance improved in the subsequent. The 24-year old established himself as one of the race's best sprinters, an attribute that saw him accumulate enough points to take snatch the green jersey from Slovenian cyclist Tadej Pogacar after the Stage Four.

A sprinter in cycling is a cyclist who has specialised in accelerating at high speeds on relatively flat courses, especially to finish a race explosively.

At the Tour de France, points are given for high finishes in a stage and for winning intermediate sprints and Girmay performed well enough in that regard to merit wearing the green jersey, the kit given to the racer who leads in points awarded as a result of accomplishing high finishes in a stage or winning intermediate sprints.

After winning Stage Three, Girmay finished outside the top 10 in Stage Four but his performance in intermediate sprints saw him receive the green jersey which he has maintained over four stages of the race.

In Stage Five, he finished in 9th place before following up the performance with a second place finish in Stage Six.

He finished outside the top 10 again in Stage Seven but he bounced back to win Stage Eight on Saturday, July 6 after finishing the 183.4-kilometre relatively flat stretch from Semur-en-Auxois to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises in a time of 4 hours 50 minutes 40 seconds.

Despite finishing 9th in Stage Nine on Sunday, July 7, Girmay once again did enough to keep wearing the green jersey.

With Monday, July 8, being a scheduled rest day in the 2024 Tour de France, Girmay gave an interview in which he looked back to the most historic week of his cycling career as he prepares to hit the road again on Tuesday, July 9, when cyclists will be racing 187.3 kilometres from  Orléans to Saint-Amand-Montrond for Stage 10 of the competition.

Girmay expressed happiness about wearing the green jersey and added that he feels confident about maintaining until Nice, where the race's finish line is at after the 21st and final stage of the race.

"I am super happy and super confident. I just have to what I can to keep doing well in the sprints so that I can continue wearing the green jersey until Nice," Girmay said.

When asked if he was the best sprinter in cycling at the moment, Girmay responded modestly, stating, though not explicitly, that he was only as good as his last race and that there are still good sprinters out there.

"It gives me confidence for the future to win against the best sprinters in the race," he said.

Coming from Eritrea, a mountaineous country, Girmay's reputation as a sprinter is unique as it is expected that he should be more dominant in the hilly stages of the competition.

When asked to account for that oddity, Girmay said: "It is just a gift, a talent. Since I started cycling, I just had more passion for sprinting."

Girmay's exploits at the 2024 Tour de France has seen him attract a lot of attention worldwide with news of his success being received with wild celebrations in his homeland, Eritrea. Girmay spoke of receiving so many messages daily from his fans daily that he has had to organise his phone so that important messages from his teammates do not get lost in between the texts from fans.

"It has been crazy. My phone has been exploding," he said.

Finally, Girmay gave a coy response when he was asked to comment on his prospects of featuring at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

"Of course it is on my mind since I am in top shape but my goal now is to complete the Tour strongly and safely and while maintaining the green jersey. After that, there will be time to rest and reflect. So we will see," he said.

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