How the Intermarché supermarket prepared Biniam Girmay for a revolutionary victory

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JESI, Italy (VN) — Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux team manager Valerio Piva has described Biniam Girmay’s maiden stage win in the Giro d’Italia as a big moment for the Eritrean rider, for the Belgian team, for African cycling and for the sport of cycling.

Beaming with joy after Girmay launched the final sprint in the finish town of Jesi and then held off Mathieu van der Poel to take a brilliantly created, equally well-taken victory, enthusiastically received by the local fans and hugely important as the first by a black Rider on a grand lap, Piva said Girmay and Intermarché finally found the good fortune they needed after near misses earlier in the race.

“Since the start of this Giro we have tried and tried, and we saw that we were a bit short of stage wins, but today we got the chance we needed,” said the Director of the Italian team.

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“It’s unbelievable, I can’t believe it. We were already focused on this stage a few days ago and this morning we tried to motivate the whole team. I saw a fantastic team around him today and he finished with a fantastic sprint against a great champion like Van der Poel so this victory is bigger I think because he beat one of the best riders in the world.

“This victory means a lot, that a new continent has arrived at the top of cycling. I think it’s the future and I think it’s important for cycling that African riders win.

Piva explained that he told his riders to stay around Girmay as much as possible during the day, and they did their job perfectly.

They were no less than three alongside the Eritrean in the group of 28 riders who rushed towards the finish, while the others helped by bringing the breakaway then dividing the peloton at the time of the break-in .

“I told the riders to try to stay calm and at the end Domenico Pozzovivo and Lorenzo Rota did a fantastic job of shutting everything down in the final when there was a lot of attack. Bini missed a corner and for a while there was a bit of a panic but it was okay, he came back,” Piva said.

The Italian director revealed he didn’t say anything to his runners in the final kilometer and left Girmay to decide when to open his sprint.

“I can’t handle this situation. It all depends on the feeling of the pilot. I think the fact that he started the sprint this far meant he knew he had the legs. I saw Van der Poel come alongside him, but he still had something left to make a last push and stay ahead.

“I would like to have 10 like him. He is very friendly, very happy, every morning he comes down with a smile. He built a group around him, they are all friends. I think that’s the secret to this success,” Piva continued.

“Everyone is happy to help him and we have a very good spirit in the team. Domenico was also amazing in the final. He is a driver with a lot of experience and we know he can bring a lot to the team.

The win, Piva added, also meant a lot to the team, which is fighting for survival at the elite WorldTeam level.

“Since the beginning of the year, we have been driving incredibly well. We won Gent-Wevelgem with him, we won many other races, the riders are super motivated. We know we have to fight until the end, to keep this position in the WorldTour, which is also important for us,” he said.

Mathieu van der Poel congratulates Biniam Girmay on the win. (Photo: Fabio Ferrari – Piscine/Getty Images)

Piva explained that the victory will now lead to a greater focus on the cyclist point jersey. Arnaud Démare still carries it, with 151 points, but Girmay is only three points behind the French.

“We thought from the start that cyclist jersey could be a target, and that’s why we started sprinting in the intermediates. We’ll see in the next three days. Tomorrow should be a sprint again, but a sprint really for pure sprinters, and then we will see in Genoa, in Cuneo,” said Piva.

The extraordinary leader of Girmay’s decisive victory came from the little climber Pozzovivo, who told BikeNews that he could not recall ever having held this position during his 18-year professional career.

“I can’t remember the last time I led a sprint, but for a stage win? Maybe never,” said the Italian, who is right in the middle of the general classification after a great run in the Blockhaus stage on Sunday that propelled him to eighth place overall.

“There weren’t many riders ahead and the last 800 meters were uphill and suited me better. When I saw the space, I told Biniam he had to follow me and that turned out to be a really good idea,” Pozzovivo said. “I made that commitment because I knew he could really win that first game. It was a team win that obviously was capped off with a great champion.

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