Girmay wants to eat 2023: first victory of the year in Altea

Three, two, one. Third in the Ses Illes Trophy, second in the Palma Trophy and, finally, victory in the first stage of the Return to the Valencian Community. This is the letter of introduction for Biniam Girmay (Intermarché) in 2023, winner today in Altea to open the Spanish round. 10th win on his resume, with a stage in the Giro and Ghent-Wevelgem last year, and a clear message. He is a physical marvel, he wastes watts, he is young (22 years old) and an ambition according to all of this. “The classics. They are my favorite races and if I had to dream of a victory, it would be with a Monument”, the Eritrean told AS in Mallorca. A challenge that, with a powerful start, has begun to face in Altea. Behind him, Olav Kooij (Jumbo) and Iván García Cortina (Movistar), well placedbut far from being able to recover the ground ceded to the sprint before the power of a runner without borders, for his ability to make African cycling grow and for his physical characteristics, perfect for those Monuments that you are after and for days like today, coming from a Volta a la Comunitat loaded with unevenness, with little room for sprinters. Or only for the strongest, those who have something more than that finishing tip.

The 74th edition of the Valencian round is presented as the most mountainous ever. For sample, the first stage. A heavy appetizer, a small spoilers than, until Sunday, the runners will find themselves. Tomorrow, 178 kilometers between Novelda and Benissa with up to seven ports and an unprecedented finish (Alto de Pinos); today, to begin with, two difficulties followed in the second category: Col de Rates, with 14 kilometers at 2.9%, and Puerto de Bernia, with 10.9 at 3.9%. The tranquility, this Wednesday, expired in the first ascent. There will be little more throughout the week. Until then, five names had ridden solo from the start, in Orihuela: Héctor Carretero (Kern Pharma), Xabier Isasa (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Riccardo Lucca (Bardiani), Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) and Ward Vanhoof (Team Flanders – Baloise) they were embarking on a utopian adventure. Vanhoof, 10 kilometers from the top, was the first to be neutralized; Carretero, hovering near his native Burrows (Albacete), the last one. With a final outburst, he gave seconds to life to the first breakaway of the race, which, at the shout of Marc Soler (UAE Team), first at the top, took a new direction. The expected.

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Bahrain began to command the descent and, after taking a short breather, with the Intermarché occupying the void and warning of what was to come, returned to the front positions. In the script of the stage, a reduced sprint was foreseen as the final; With the tireless Damiano Caruso at the helm, the Persian Gulf team was trying to remove as many sprinters as possible from the equation. Not enough. High pace and an orange spearhead, with the seven Bahrain riders in a block, inseparable. Gino Mader, Mikel Landa, Soler, infiltrated to secure the mountain jersey, and Wout Poels crowned in Bernia. Behind him, an increasingly smaller group, which collected the Jumbo and Movistar, presenting their numerous assets for the day.

“I expect a sprint finish, but with a small group. The people are eager and it will be a hard day. You have to pass the port. We know the area quite a bit, so both (Gonzalo) Serrano and I The stage is good for us. If Cortina does not pass the port, we will try to be there”, valued Álex Aranburu (Movistar), before taking the exit. Impeccable analysis that only Joan Bou (Euskaltel-Euskadi), a Valencian, tried to jeopardize. 9 kilometers from the end, he launched his órdago. He was seen at home with nothing to lose, but with little chance of winning. The Jumbo let him know. With 2.6 kilometers to go, the select group that was going to compete in the sprint gobbled him up. Meters later, the position dance began. The Dutch team made room for itself and, with it, Movistar, with a podium finish and the following positions (José Joaquín Rojas 4th and Aranburu, 5th). Behind them, opening to the left, standing alone, a Girmay emerged who is very serious. 2022 was splendid, but 2023 may be his year.

Classification | Stage 1

1st Biniam Girmay (ERI/Intermarché) – 4:38:11

2nd Olav Kooij (PPBB/Jumbo) – mt

3rd Iván García Cortina (ESP/Mov) – mt

4th José Joaquín Rojas (ESP/Mov) – mt

5th Álex Aranburu (ESP/Mov) – mt

Classification | General

1st Biniam Girmay (ERI/Intermarché) – 4:38:01

2nd Olav Kooij (PPBB/Jumbo) – at 4″

3rd Iván García Cortina (ESP/Mov) – 6″

4th José Joaquín Rojas (ESP/Mov) – 10″

5th Álex Aranburu (ESP/Mov) – mt

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