Congratulations to Biniam Girmay for winning Gent-Wevelgem. A big win, a stage in his career. He was so strong Euro pro teams took notice in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo race in Gabon and he came recommended by the UCI’s World Cycling Centre.
A telling thing is that he joined the Delko team, which points to gaps in the talent detection for the big teams, a talented Belgian junior can practically name their team these days while Girmay didn’t start in the World Tour, not even Qhubeka. After the Delko team imploded mid-season last year he joined Intermarché and won a race for them last year, another in Majorca this year and came close to the win in Paris-Nice too, especially the stage to Dun-le-Palestel. Then he was third wheel going up the Paterberg behind the Jumbo-Visma duo. In other words he’s on the up and we’ll see what comes next. Literally the Giro. The team are obviously keep to keep him and they’ve risen up along with him,
Girmay? Ghirmay? Girmaye? Grmaye? His name’s been spelled differently at different times, his own Instagram account uses Girmaye, his Twitter account Grmaye. But the sport seems to have settled on Girmay. It doesn’t matter much given the correct spelling is in Tigrinyan script rather than the Roman alphabet, but does mean that if you want to search for part articles and stories you might have to look under each name. The convention for Eritrean names is to have a given name, then the next name is that of their father and possibly their grandfather. So he’s Biniam who’s the son of Girmay who’s the son of Hailu.
If you see images of parades in the streets of Asmara in the coming days… a pinch of salt. While many Eritreans will delight in the win, and scenes of a triumphant cyclist being greeted by huge crowds are often joyous moments… it’ll also be instrumentalised by the Eritrean regime, it happened last time when Daniel Teklehaimanot was feted for wearing the polka dot jersey in the Tour de France. Put simply it’s great to celebrate the achievement a line is crossed if government officials start to appropriate any of it. Eritrea’s an authoritarian dictatorship that manages to finish last on the Reporters Without Borders index for media freedom, even below North Korea so images might be hard to find anyway.
From political censorship to omission, this time probably for commercial reasons. Dwars Door Vlaanderen today and a dense startlist for both the men’s and women’s races, with Tadej Pogačar, Mathieu van der Poel and Annemiek van Vleuten taking on those who’ve already been busy on the pavé so far. It’s worth tuning in for later today. What time? Well good question and a prize if any readers can find this on the race website. Annoyingly the Flanders Classics website won’t tell you, you have to apply by email for a link where you can then get a PDF and find race info like the course, timings and profile. It’s been the same across all Flanders Classics race websites, including this Sunday’s Ronde. Which isn’t much use for a website is it?
There are huge problems with mechanicals this season. According to sources in the peloton it’s the new 12 speed Shimano that blurps big time. #chainreaction
— Lars B. Jørgensen (@LarsBartoli) March 27, 2022
Onto electronic fails of a different kind: jammed chains, dropped chains. Are there more this season, or is this just recency bias where we remember fresh images of riders suffering mechanicals? One aggravating factor is the move to 12 speed gearing meaning a narrower chain with tighter clearances, then heightened by some teams running mix-and-match systems, either deliberately because they don’t have full system sponsorship or unwillingly because they’re short on spares. We’ll never know though as nobody’s going to speak on the record about it.
Staying on bike tech but with things we can verify, as MatosVelo reported from Paris-Nice, almost all teams are on 140mm rotors, riders are usually light and they don’t warp as much compared to 160mm ones. If anything some would like smaller, especially for the rear wheel. As for tires, 28mm is becoming widespread, a shift after a decade ago moving to 25mm felt new. 28mm used to be Paris-Roubaix but that’s 30mm now, with Filippo Ganna training on these tires as he makes his long awaited bid for Roubaix.
Is it tech or media? The Tour de France and Strava have announced a deal together. But there’s not much more to go on. One angle here is who owns the data? Not all riders have accounts, plenty don’t upload their day’s data to Strava. But you can have timed segments using the timing chips on the bikes and mats placed at the start and finish of a climb so that’s a way to time all riders and log them on Strava, although only by start and finish for linear data. They could use the tracking devices on the bike instead which are used at the Tour too. Does this presage a change in the mountains competition? Who knows although you’d think they’d try this out first in a smaller race or use this summer’s Tour to build up some data before changing the competition. Plus the mountains competition is already sponsored by retail giant Leclerc so there’s that to manage as well.
Certainly media and less PR, Season 3 of Movistar’s El Dià Menos Pensado (“The Least Expected Day”) is out, but for Movistar customers only in Spain right now. Apparently it’s off to a good start. Having only seen Season 2 it should be worth a watch when it’s released for wider consumption and at times to watch a Movistar tactical implosion has been to wonder if this was “content creation” for video. A lot of team videos are produced by communication agencies for the teams themselves and “behind the scenes footage” is the scene, with everything carefully edited and portrayed and even the negatives get spun. But El Dià Menos Pensado has been much more unfiltered and refreshing because of that, look out for it.