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Biniam Girmay returning to competition this weekend

From 18th to 20th of May, Intermarché-Wanty will compete with a selection of fourteen riders to three classics in the Netherlands and Belgium, including Biniam Girmay and Boy van Poppel, who are returning to competition after injuries.

This Saturday 18th of May, the Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic covers 172 flat kilometers, divided into five laps. Gerben Thijssen participates for the second time after his second place in 2022, in the company of Boy van Poppel, who is returning into competition for the first time since his crash in Nokere Koerse in March. Biniam Girmay also resumes competition after his double crash in the fourth stage of the Tour of Italy and reinforces the selection directed by Kévin Van Melsen, which is also composed of Huub Artz, Tom Paquot, Baptiste Planckaert and Gijs Van Hoecke.

The next day on 19th of May, the riders have to cover no less than 42 unpaved sectors around the Port of Antwerp, or 32 kilometers of dirt roads and 24 kilometers of cobblestones. This Tuesday, Vito Braet, Gijs Van Hoecke and cyclocross specialists Thijs Aerts and Gerben Kuypers completed a course recon under guidance of sports director Dimitri Claeys, in preparation for the race in which they will participate alongside Biniam Girmay, Hugo Page and Kevin Kuhn.

The triptych is concluded on 20th of May with the 196 kilometer Ronde van Limburg between Hasselt and Tongeren, which, despite its eight cobble sections and eleven short climbs, traditionally ends with a bunch sprint. Defending winner Gerben Thijssen can rely on the support of Huub Artz, Vito Braet, Biniam Girmay, Zeno Moonen, Adrien Petit and Boy van Poppel under the direction of Dimitri Claeys.

“My withdrawal from the Tour of Italy was a big disappointment. But now I have to focus on new goals. Even though physically I don't feel at my best yet due to my big wounds and the sleep problems they cause, I want to perform well and be competitive. The form is there, I have prepared very well for this month of competition, and I am extremely motivated to race. The Veenendaal Classic and the Tour of Limburg are ideal opportunities to race alongside Gerben Thijssen, in the context of the Tour de France. It is important to complement our training with race experience together. Sunday, the Antwerp Port Epic is a special classic I really wanted to discover. Every day, I can gradually increase the intensity in training and I hope that this feeling will continue in the races, as I am eager to grab the opportunities the coming weeks to perform."

"Biniam Girmay immediately showed that he was in excellent condition in the Giro with his third place in the first opportunity for sprinters. Our disappointment when he had to leave the race after his double crash was big. He was in a lot of pain, unable to use power or sit straight on the bike. The initial diagnosis from the race doctor was clear, he was fearing a hip fracture. We decided to follow the race doctor's advice and withdraw him from the race. In the end, the damage was not as bad as initially feared, fortunately, but this did not diminish his disappointment at not being able to achieve his goals. However, we remain optimistic, thanks to his smooth recovery and a new plan for the coming weeks. The pain in his hip is progressively decreasing, which allowed him to cautiously resume training over the past few days. The idea is to assess day by day how his body responds to the three classics this weekend. In Veenendaal on Saturday and the Tour of Limburg on Monday, he will reinforce the team around Gerben Thijssen and on Sunday he will join a strong team in the Antwerp Port Epic. This way, he can gain race rhythm and we can make the most of his second race block in Europe with some beautiful classics which suit him well later this month."


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