Tour de France 2024 stage 8: Recap, highlights and Biniam Girmay’s triumph

Eritrean Biniam Girmay (Intermarché Wanty), who was awarded the green points jersey, once again raised his arms as the winner in the eighth stage of the Tour de France contested between Semur-en-Auxois and Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, 183.4 kilometres, a transitional day that kept Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE) at the head of the general classification.

Double for Girmay (Asmara, 24 years old), who has become the king of the sprint in this edition. He won in Turin and repeated his historic success on Italian soil with another victory in a tight sprint in which he beat Belgians Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin) and Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Dstny), the national champion. In the top 10, the Spaniard Alex Aranburu (Movistar) was ninth and Evenepoel tenth.

“A victory for my family, who always supported me in becoming a cyclist. It was a perfect ending with the climb close to the finish line, that’s why I won. On the flat, they beat me because my rivals weigh more than me and use more watts. They threw me well and I was able to finish,” Girmay summed up.

The peloton, with the same time as the winner, 4h.04.50, at an average of 44.9 km/h, entered the general classification without any incidents. On the eve of the “sterrato” day, on a dirt track, Tadej Pogacar remains in the lead with a 33-second advantage over Evenepoel and 1.15 minutes ahead of the Dane Jonas Vingegaard.

The first Spaniard is Juan Ayuso, fifth at 2.16, Carlos Rodríguez is seventh at 2.31 and further behind are Mikel Landa at 3.35 and Enric Mas at 6.10.

Surreal escape of Abrahamsem, the fugitive from the Tour

The stage started in the rain in the fortified Burgundian town of Semur-en-Auxois, with just 4,200 inhabitants, According to legend, it was founded by Hercules after his return from Hispania. The Tour uses these settings if it finds in them some symbolism inherited from history or some relevant character.

A Norwegian cyclist dressed from head to toe in the red polka dots of a best climber, who is called Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno X), wanted to start writing his own page of fiction with yet another breakaway. “Mr. Courage” took to the hills to collect points on the five climbs of the course.

Like an ant, and with more morale than Alcoyano, he challenged the anaesthetized peloton with his pedal strokes, and all to collect 7 points from his conquests of the 5 tacks of the day. The boy, so far, has run away for more than a third of the Tour. As could not be otherwise, he was declared the most combative of the stage.

Girmay finishes with a double and ruins Philipsen

With his goal accomplished, Abrahamsen continued on with 50 km still ahead of him until he reached another small town, Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, this one with 700 inhabitants and 9 churches, and also famous. It is the village where General De Gaulle had his holiday home, and where the remains of the statesman and founder of the French Fifth Republic rest. A memorial presides over the landscape with a large Cross of Lorraine.

From that point, the fleeting colours of the Tour peloton could be seen in the distance, ready to prepare for a more than likely sprint. Jasper Philipsen and Van der Poel’s Alpecin took matters into their own hands to try to secure a victory that would calm the nerves of the team, which has yet to see a win.

Abrahamsen, who had been leading by almost seven minutes, came down from the cloud, exhausted, 14.5 km from the finish. He covered the first 140 kilometres at an impressive average of 44.6 km/h, but the peloton pursued its prey without mercy.

The rain that spread across the Grand Est region, the nerves on approach and the speed exceeding 70 km/h stretched the peloton to the point of putting the leader’s team in trouble, which once again left Pogacar isolated in front. The warning did not fall on deaf ears. The UAE entered at the head of the race to avoid any problems.

The message from the team cars was a “stay alert” phase, advising that it was advisable to “stay together” in order to respond to unexpected movements. The last kilometer had a couple of steep slopes and last-minute jumps were expected.

Once again it was an anarchic sprint, with no control by any team, where each team played its cards its own way. This time, and coming from behind, Philipsen launched himself for his debut, opening up a few metres, but the steep slope close to the finish line sank the Belgian and the figure of Girmay stood out. Another strong voice from the figure of African cycling.

Tour de France – Stage 8.

Dario Belingheri/Getty Images

The fifteenth victory for Girmay, the fourth of the season for a rider who is a symbol of his continent. The man who won a stage in the Giro, the day he damaged his eye with the cork of the champagne bottle on the podium, and the one who made history by winning the Ghent Wevelgem. Now, and for the moment, he is the best sprinter in the Tour.

This Sunday the first week of the Tour closes with the ninth stage, starting and finishing in Troyes, 199 km long, the long-awaited “sterrato” day, since, as a novelty, it includes 14 sectors on dirt tracks in its atypical route that will cover 32 km. The last of them is 6 km from the finish. A stressful day in which the favourites will have to be careful. It will be a small “Strade Bianche” in French style.

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