Biniam Girmay is already cycling's first black star: he wins Ghent-Wevelgem 2022
It's no surprise, because we had already warned about it, even though it's the first time he's won a major classic. The Eritrean Biniam Girmay has won the Ghent-Wevelgem 2022 and has confirmed himself as the first black star of cycling at the age of just 21; a sport that until now has been very, very white. But not any more. The feeling we have after the end of this race is that today marks the beginning of a new era in the sport.
What happened at the Ghent-Wevelgem 2022
Until after the first climbs and the plugstreets (the sections of sterrato introduced since 2017), there was little more to Ghent-Wevelgem 2022 than small battles. Asgreen, Van Aert, Campenaerts, Girmay or Pedersen managed to open a gap on each uphill climb of the Kemmelberg, the big wall of this classic, proving that they were once again the strongest riders of the day, as in E3 Harelbeke. But, on the flat, large pelotons formed again.
Once again, on the last (and hardest) step of this cobbled climb, Wout Van Aert launched one of his terrifying attacks, and managed to go completely alone... only to be quickly reabsorbed by a small group of favourites first and then by a larger one. Although the Belgian was once again showing his superiority ahead of the Tour of Flanders (next week), the race seemed to be heading for a bunch sprint, one of the most likely outcomes in this classic that is usually said to be for sprinters.
But on the flat terrain, with about 25 km to go, Christophe Laporte (Van Aert's teammate at Jumbo-Visma, and second in E3 Harelbeke) tried a tactical move. And he took with him 3 other good riders who were also very fast: Jasper Stuyven (winner of Milan-Sanremo 2021, from Trek-Segafredo), Dries Van Gestel (Peter Sagan's team-mate at TotalEnergies) and Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert).
Van Aert himself did not hesitate to work behind for his team-mate, hindering the work of the chasing teams, so that soon the gap between the breakaway grew to 30 seconds. There was an attempt to break the escapade by Groupama-FJD and Quick-Step, with the collaboration of Movistar (for sprinter Max Kanter), but they were not fully organised, and the finish line was fast approaching.
Laporte entered the finishing straight first, a mistake, no doubt, that Girmay was able to take advantage of. And he launched the sprint from very, very far away, some 300 metres out. But with a truly extraordinary power that seemed out of this world (especially after almost 250 km), he was able to keep all his rivals at a distance, and to raise his arms on the finish line.
A spectacular triumph, even if the Jumbo-Visma rider was on the verge of catching him in the final metres. The world of cycling is, from today, a little more diverse, and it seems that the future will be like that too: the young man, born in Asmara (Eritrea) in April 2000, is not yet 22 years old; and he is already postulated as one of the great protagonists in the cobblestone classics (although, unfortunately, it seems that he is not yet for this year, because after today he is scheduled to return to his country to prepare for the Giro d'Italia). We can only rejoice at all this.
Results Ghent-Wevelgem 2022
- GIRMAY Biniam (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert)
- LAPORTE Christophe (Jumbo-Visma) m.t.
- VAN GESTEL Dries (TotalEnergies) m.t.
- STUYVEN Jasper (Trek-Segafredo) m.t.
- KRAGH ANDERSEN Soren (DSM) m.t.