Biniam Girmay to miss Glasgow World Championships amid reports of UK visa issues

Three other Eritrean riders: Natnael Tesfatsion, Merhawi Kudus, and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, also reported to have been denied UK visas

Biniam Girmay on stage at the Tour de France 2023
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Biniam Girmay is to miss the Glasgow World Championships due to injury, his team has announced, amid reports that the Eritrean had faced issues gaining a visa.

On Wednesday morning, GCN News reported that Girmay, along with his Eritrean teammates Natnael Tesfatsion, Merhawi Kudus, and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, had all been denied visas to enter the UK for the worlds.

However, later on Wednesday, Girmay's team, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty, published a press release saying that he would miss the worlds due to an injury sustained at last week's Clasica San Sebastián.

Intermarché's statement read: "[Girmay] crashed at a speed of more than 60 kilometres per hour and suffers from contusions and pain in the hip, preventing him from defending his chances at the Elite World Championships."

Girmay added that he was "very disappointed" to be missing the World Championships which he said was his “main goal for this season since last winter".

Girmay said in the statement. "I had a good feeling after the Tour de France, but my crash in the Classica San Sebastián caused too severe pain to be able to defend my chances in the worlds.

"My priority is now to recover from this crash and then the preparation for the last part of the season, with nice goals in one day races such as the Grand Prix de Plouay and Canadian classics.”

GCN reported that while Girmay, Tesfatsion, Kudus, and Ghebreigzabhier were facing visa issues, their three other Eritrean teammates Natnael Berhane, Henok Mulubrahn, and Dawit Yemane had all been granted entry.

It is unclear why the four were denied visas. CW understands that Girmay has a Schengen visa, which allows him to travel through the EU unimpeded, although he would have needed to apply for an extra visa in order to travel to the UK. 

He lives in San Marino, a state enclaved within Italy, along with Tesfatsion and Ghebreigzabhier. GCN reported that the four were still hoping to obtain visas and travel to Glasgow for the worlds.

Girmay would have been among the favourites for the road race on Sunday, with its Amstel Gold Race-like course suiting his qualities as a rider. He became the first African to win a cobbled Classic at Gent-Wevelgem last year and followed this up by being the first Black African to win a stage of the Giro d’Italia.

He raced the Tour de France this July, finishing third on stage seven to Bordeaux.

Intermarché, Girmay's agent, the Eritrean Cycling Federation, and the UK Home Office were all contacted for comment on the visa issue, but had not responded by time of publication.

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