Surf Coast Classic: Biniam Girmay sprints to victory

Intermarché-Wanty rider claims his first victory of the season in a bunch sprint, as Australian block of racing nears its end

Clock03:41, Thursday 25th January 2024
Biniam Girmay sprinted to victory ahead of Elia Viviani

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Biniam Girmay sprinted to victory ahead of Elia Viviani

Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) triumphed in a close bunch sprint at the Surf Coast Classic to claim his first victory of the season.

The Eritrean rider delivered a strong kick in the sprint finish to edge out Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers), with Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Tech) rounding out the top three.

With little to worry the fast men, the day was always expected to end in a bunch sprint and it stuck to that script with the day’s five-man breakaway easily chased back before the sprint teams burst into life for the finish.

Building on his strong early-season form at the recent Santos Tour Down Under, where he twice finished in the top three, Girmay proved to be the strongest in the sprint to the line.

Sprint teams in control

After a three-year hiatus, the race returned for only its second edition, with many of the riders who started the Tour Down Under making the short journey along the southern coast of Australia to take to the start line.

For many, the aim was to become only the second-ever winner of the race and to add their name alongside Sam Bennett to the list of winners. The Irishman triumphed in a sprint in the inaugural edition back in 2020 and it was expected to play out in a similar fashion once again on a 158.6km route that contained little to worry the fast men.

Many of the sprint teams will have been relieved at the start of the day by the absence of Sam Welsford and his Bora-Hansgrohe team who dominated the sprints at the Tour Down Under. His absence opened up a bigger opportunity but before the fast men could grasp it, they first needed to reel in the day’s breakaway, and it was a strong one.

The fight for the breakaway started on the challenging uphill drag to Dean Marsh, which provided the biggest obstacle of the day and was tackled immediately from the start. Lidl-Trek were the main protagonists early in the race and that was rewarded when Bauke Mollema and Natnael Tesfatsion escaped up the road. The Lidl-Trek duo were joined by Jonas Rutsch (EF Education-EasyPost), Zac Marriage (Team BridgeLane) and William Eaves (ARA Skip Capital) who, at only 19 years of age, was the youngest rider in the breakaway and 18 years Mollema’s junior.

With plenty of firepower to call upon, the breakaway’s lead gradually increased beyond the two-minute barrier as they tackled the rolling farmland roads that made up the majority of the day’s route, before falling just short of three minutes with 90 of the 158.6km still remaining.

At that point, there were rumblings of a chase brewing and the breakaway’s slim hopes gradually faded along with their gap. The gap quickly dropped to below two minutes and, driven on by Jayco-AlUla, Ineos Grenadiers, Israel-Premier Tech and Intermarché-Wanty, was soon below one minute as attention turned to the final 30km and a sprint finish.

The breakaway’s hopes were dented further when Marriage and Eaves dropped back, although the remaining trio fought on and were only caught inside the final 10km, at which point all attention turned to the finish.

In the finish, it was Girmay who stepped up to edge out Viviani and Strong in the kick to the line as he took a confidence-boosting early-season victory.

Race Results

1

er flag

GIRMAY Biniam

Intermarché-Wanty

2H 37' 40"

2

it flag

VIVIANI Elia

INEOS Grenadiers

"

3

nz flag

STRONG Corbin

Israel-Premier Tech

"

4

be flag

FRETIN Milan

Cofidis

"

5

nz flag

PITHIE Laurence

Groupama-FDJ

"

6

de flag

KANTER Max

Astana Qazaqstan Team

"

7

ee flag

MIHKELS Madis

Intermarché-Wanty

"

8

be flag

ALLEGAERT Piet

Cofidis

"

9

lv flag

LIEPINS Emils

Team dsm-firmenich PostNL

"

10

gb flag

MCLAY Daniel

ARKEA-B&B HOTELS

"

Provided by FirstCycling

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