There’s always one, isn’t there. Quite often there’s more than one, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, stage 3 is the one – the long, flat stage that’s designated a day off for the entire peloton (aside from a couple of the sprinter’s teams’ rouleurs, and even they aren’t having a particularly difficult day out). Did it also happen to be the longest stage of this year’s race, just to prolong our anticipation? Yes, yes it did.

But I am a positive individual and will seek the many silver linings from today’s stage, despite having spent the best part of six hours recounting the nothing that was happening for the Road Code Race Centre’s live commentary. They revolve almost entirely around Dylan Groenewegen’s glasses and the ensuing online content, the stunning winelands of the Piedmont region, and the fact it didn’t rain.

It was kind of wonderful see former French national champion Valentin Madouas sporting a full polka dot skinsuit, having spent just three days in regular Groupama-FDJ kit since last June, even if he was only wearing it for a friend (Jonas Abrahamsen). Abrahamsen himself had green, polka dots and the most combative rider, scooping up a bunch of prizes and attention for his Uno-X Mobility team who are the wildcard team who could so far this Tour – and to prove it, he and his buddy, youngest rider in the race Johannes Kulset, went for a jaunt up the road at the beginning of the stage, ostensibly to wave at the crowds and have a few photos taken. They then abandoned that venture, not even just sitting up to wait for the peloton – as that would have taken too long – instead, dismounting their bikes in the most flagrant display of being completely unwilling to go in the breakaway that I have ever seen.

Fast forward about 200km. They were lovely though, those kilometres, if you sat back and looked at the bigger picture. The riders, safe. Happy. Chatting to their mates. Smiling and waving and sticking their tongues out and generally making a mockery of the idea that they would even think about bothering with getting to work until there was less than 50km to go.

A brief interlude for the intermediate sprint, well won by Mads Pedersen of Lidl-Trek, before we continued our social media conversations about Dylan Groenewegen’s ridiculous glasses. And laughed at UAE Team Emirates, who joined the pile-in on Visma-Lease A Bike’s control room with this little cracker.

People were nice to each other. The landscape was absolutely to die for. We all felt like drinking a nice glass of Nebbiolo. And we waited for the inevitable.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and the peloton’s lovely day out was sadly interrupted by the rapidly approaching end of the race where it turned out, they had to clock on for work. Cue a lone breakaway attempt by TotalEnergies Fabien Grellier, in a blatant but successful pledge to win the most combative rider prize, before we proceeded rapidly through the 5km mark from which point everyone on GC was able to sit back and relax safe in the knowledge their times would stand and the sprinters would all get to have their fun.

It was fun? For some. Not so for Mathieu van der Poel who was spotted standing alone at the side of the road waiting for a bike change. Not so for Jasper Philipsen, who crashed after clipping a teammate’s wheel, though it wasn’t caught on camera. Not fun either for Guillaume Boivin and Jake Stewart of Israel-Premier Tech, and a few more who came down heading toward the final, and not for the sprinters caught out behind the crash and unable to go for the prize, a group which included Mark Cavendish.

It left the way clear for a select group of fast men to go head-to-head, and Intermarché-Wanty had the best line heading onto the final straight. Then Sam Bennett was there and then Mads P, and then Arnaud de Lie and Dylan Groenewegen and somehow, through the melée, an Intermarché-Wanty rider making the most of the favourable positioning to surge his way to the front. Most expected Gerben Thijssens to be the chosen man for the Belgian side today, so when Biniam Girmay crossed the line first, there was first surprise, then elation, as a fan favourite added to his Giro d’Italia stage win a win at the most important race of all – making history in the process. Becoming the first black African rider ever to win a stage at Le Tour. The first Eritrean, and the first rider from the Intermarché team. All the plaudits, and all the emotion, as Bini broke down in tears in his post-race interview as the enormity of his achievement began to sink in.

History has been made every day so far on this Tour de France, and the momentum of stories following stories doesn’t feel as though it’s going to abate. We are all just passengers on this rollercoaster ride. And while today the ride was pretty tame for most of the day, it concluded with a brilliant twist. Scream if you wanna go faster! (Please, can we go a bit faster?)

Africa Rising's Kimberly Coats spoke exclusively to about the impact of Biniam Girmay's victory.

'All you have to do is go to Asmara, Eritrea and see the impact of cycling amongst the youth of that country. The streets are full of young riders all wearing the professional racing jerseys of their favourite riders, the riders they emulate and the ones they want to grow up to be. Hundreds of kids inspired by African cyclists like Biniam and before him Daniel Teklahaimanot and Merhawi Kudus and Natnael Berhane.

'The recent film by Lieven Corthouts, This is My Moment, captures how challenging Biniam’s life was and still is even today. Things are not easy in these African countries and access to opportunities and equipment are challenging, then you top that off with all the visa issues, it’s a wonder any kid makes it. Biniam’s drive and commitment in the face of adversity makes this moment even more remarkable.

'You cannot underestimate the power of representation. My phone has been blowing up all day with messages from my Benin riders and cyclists all over — Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya…..everyone BELIEVES they have a shot. It happened in 2015 when Daniel T got the KOM at the Tour. Our Rwandan riders saw him win that jersey and they believed they too could do it. Biniam’s win today upped the game. These kids believe they can be a TdF champion. That’s what Biniam does for the millions of cycling hopefuls on the African continent. And Biniam's reach extends beyond Africa. The US's the US’s Atlanta Journal Constitution ran this article earlier today, encouraging black kids to believe [link may be geoblocked].

'This is truly epic.'

FEATURE: Bini Bini Bici!

by Peter Barnes

In Torino, one man came, saw and conquered and left his fellow sprinters in his wake. The history maker, the first Eritrean to win a stage of the Giro, the first Eritrean to win a Belgian classic and now the first Eritrean to win a stage of the Tour de France.

According to his post-race interview, it wasn’t meant to be that way, he was riding in support of the team’s other sprinter Gerben Thijssen - Biniam was presumably targeting the more selective finishes where most sprinters would have been dropped before the finish and yet here he had opportunity thrust upon him.

Coming into the finish there was a crash which took many riders out but it barely diminished the calibre of sprinters he beat in the finish, only Philipsen, Cavendish and Kristoff were riders I would feel comfortable saying that they lost their chance at a victory because of the crash.

This is a victory that will cut through in a major way - classics and Giri don’t really register on the public’s consciousness. Tour stages are something entirely different, win one of them and that’s a career made.

This year we’ve already had a win for fan favourites Bardet, Vauquelin and now Girmay; the Galibier is tomorrow, and if current form continues, I wonder which fan favourite will claim victory.

Compiled and designed by Anna McEwen

Stage 4 - Pinerolo - Valloire

1-1-1 Things of the Tour de France

by Mathieu Fraisse

1 food: la raclette

As we will be heading towards the French Alps, I would be a fool to avoid the famous raclette!

Originally from Switzerland, it's a typical dish from the Alps where you basically heat a piece of cheese, scrap the melted part and eat it with boiled potatoes (also ham and pickles are usually added).

Feel free to add a glass of Savoy wine to get the full Alpine gastronomic experience! But drink responsibly of course 😉

1 rider: Fabio Felline

The Piedmontese rider is not riding this year's Tour de France but he was the youngest rider of the 2010 edition!

His major career achievement happened in 2016 where he went on to claim the points classification of La Vuelta España.

Now 34-years old and after a three-year spell at Astana, Felline joined Lidl-Trek at the beginning of this year, mostly now operating as road captain during Classics.

1 fact: an unusual kind of world cup

Each year, at the end of June, Valloire welcomes a rather unusual contest: the world cup of hay sculptures! 

12 teams will compete to win the contest. They will each have 600kg of hay and 400kg of straw to build the most beautiful and impressive sculpture. 

The exhibition will then last all summer so after a tough day climbing the Galibier, riders might take some time to admire these works of art, who knows!


This Tour de France doesn't pull its punches, does it? Just one day to rest and recover - although it was a day in excess of 200km - and the ruthless organisers throw in the race's first HC climb, and the legendary Col du Galibier, on a day which features barely any downhill.

Yes, it's upwards from the start, as the day begins in Italy and spends roughly half of its time bidding a fond farewell to the land that has made Le Tour feel welcome for the past three days. Two category two climbs bring us from Italy into France, where the fearsome Galibier awaits - a 23km slog which will see the climbers rise to the fore, and then um, sink down the fore again? As they must face a steep descent to the finish line - the likes of Tom Pidcock and Matej Mohorič will have an eye on this stage as whoever can descend with speed and accuracy will prevail. For the fans looking on, it will be a finish that will have us holding our breath the whole way down.

WBR Team Predictions: Katy - Tom Pidcock, Sam - Tadej Pogačar, Stine - Lenny Martinez

Before you go...

Just in case you missed the furore around Dylan Groenewegen's questionable eyewear...

And Sam Bennett may not have won the sprint today, but he's totally won our hearts in this adorable clip...

Ciao Italy and bonjour France! We'll see you all tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

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