Every year during La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, the Best African Cyclist of the year is named. Although the 2022 La Tropicale is on hiatus due to COVID-19, the naming of the Best African Cyclist of the year continues! This year’s field showcases cyclists from Eritrea, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Algeria, and Ivory Coast. Missing from this list is Rwanda, who have fielded nominees since the inception of the award in 2012. Rwanda took top honors in 2018 with Joseph Areruya becoming the first Rwandan to receive the award.
This year’s Best African Cyclist award goes to Biniam Girmay of Eritrea, riding for Intermarché-Wanty. This is Biniam’s second honor in a row, taking the award in 2020 and now, 2021. This year, Biniam Girmay took the world cycling stage by storm with his epic sprint at the 2021 UCI World Championships in Belgium placing second in the U23 Road Race. Biniam becomes the first black African and first Eritrean to stand atop the World Championship podium. Binian’s meteoric rise began in 2018 winning the African Continental Championships as a junior in road, ITT and TTT. He won stages at the Tour of Rwanda and the La Tropicale before signing with Delko and later, Intermarché-Wanty.
This award has been won six times by Eritrean riders, three times by South Africa, including Louis Meintjes twice, and Rwanda. Bernard Hinault, President of the Jury expressed his thoughts about the young Eritrean talent, “Biniam Girmay confirmed again this year that he is the most promising rider of African cycling. His performance at the world championship was not achieved by accident. The best riders of his generation were present in Leuven (Belgium) and he finished second! This is a well-deserved recognition.”
Team Africa Rising agrees with the sentiment expressed by legendary, Bernard Hinault, as well the rest of the Best African Cyclist jury. The talent to win major events, including the Tour de France, resides on the African continent. The key to seeing more talented cyclists at the top levels of the sport is in the development of junior talent throughout Africa. TAR is committed to detecting, testing, training and nurturing the next generation of talented cyclists like Biniam Girmay in preparation for the UCI World Championships in Rwanda in 2025.