Biniam Girmay named African Cyclist of the Year after momentous World Championship performance

The Eritrean rider won the silver medal in the U23 road race

Biniam Girmay African Cyclist of the Year
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay has been named African Cyclist of the Year for the second year in a row, by a 25-person selection committee chaired by five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault.

Girmay became the first black African to win a medal at the Road World Championships earlier this year, when he secured the silver medal in the U23 road race in Leuven. 

Created in 2012, the African Cyclist of the Year award is run by the organisers of the Topicale Amissa Bongo. Girmay won the award ahead of Ryan Gibbons of South Africa and UAE Team Emirates, and Merhawi Kudus of Eritrea and Astana.

Bernard Hinault said: “Biniam Girmay confirmed again this year that he is the most promising rider of African cycling. 

"His performance at the world championship was not achieved by accident. The best riders of his generation were present in Leuven and he finished second. It's fantastic. This is a well-deserved recognition.” 

The 21-year-old joined WorldTour team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux in August 2021, in a mid-season transfer from ProTeam Delko. 

His first appearance with his new team resulted in a top-ten finish at the Tour de Pologne, before he took seventh place at the Druivenkoerse Overijse. A week after, he then won the Classic Grand Besançon Doubs, beating riders such as Nairo Quintana and Thibault Pinot. 

Girmay then managed another seventh place, this time at the Tour du Jura, and then repeated his second place finish from the 2020 Tour du Doubs. 

The Eritrean then produced an impressive ride to win silver at the Worlds, before completing his season with fifth-place finishes at both La Route Adélie and Gran Piemonte.

Girmay's crowning as African Cyclist of the Year for the second successive year is also only the second time a rider has won the award twice since its inception, after Louis Meintjes was voted the winner in 2013 and 2017.