Biniam Girmay's Tour de France stage win shines a light on visa issues facing young African cyclists

Eritrean’s problems obtaining a visa in the early stages very nearly 'derailed' his career

Biniam Girmay
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Biniam Girmay - who yesterday became the first black African to win a stage of the Tour de France - almost had his career derailed by issues obtaining a visa, an obstacle still facing talented riders taking their first steps into the professional world.

The 24-year-old Eritrean fought to get a visa approved late in 2019 and into early 2020, before signing with Team Delko. With entry to Europe approved, he was able to chase his dreams, signing with Intermarché-Wanty in 2021 and becoming the first black African to win a Grand Tour stage in 2022, at the Giro d'Italia. 

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Tom Thewlis

Tom has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2022 and his news stories, rider interviews and features appear both online and in the magazine. 

Since joining the team, he has reported from some of professional cycling's biggest races and events including the Tour de France and the World Championships in Glasgow. He has also covered races elsewhere across the world. 

As well as on the ground reporting, Tom writes race reports from the men's and women's WorldTour and helps with coverage of UK domestic cycling.