Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
In just his second ever race on the cobbles of Belgium, Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay is now a spring classic winner at Gent-Wevelgem, the first from Africa, throwing out preconceptions and perceived limitations of what African riders can achieve. It’s a watershed moment in professional cycling, leaving much to discuss on this week’s episode of Aérogramme.
Jeremy Whittle and Peter Cossins once again join OJ Borg for another installment of the podcast from the spring classics, and they’re eager to dive into the big result for Girmay. Hot off of taking fifth at E3, his first time riding on cobbles, the 21-year-old sprinted to the huge win. He employed clever tactics coupled with sheer power to win a race over many established classics riders who know these roads intimately.The discussion quickly turns to the importance of this win. What will the first cobbled classic victory by an African rider mean for the advancement of African and Black riders in cycling? And what does it mean for Girmay’s life and career?
But in order for this moment to happen, Girmay first had to break into pro cycling. He has been beating the odds for his entire life to find himself where he is now, coming from a country where, when he was born, one in two kids were severely malnourished. Dr. Stuart Gillespie, a senior fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, joins the show to provide context about Girmay’s home country of Eritrea, its cycling culture and what his accomplishment will mean for the country.
Later, the discussion turns to etiquette and manners within the pro peloton and how new riders are rewriting traditional attitudes and norms of the sport. And we check in on the exciting women’s edition of Gent-Wevelgem.