This is for Africa: Girmay makes Tour de France history

Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay became the first Black African to win a Tour de France stage when he sprinted to victory in the third stage.

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish's pursuit of a record-breaking 35th stage win was postponed, and Olympic champion Richard Carapaz took the yellow jersey from Tadej Pogacar.

Girmay also made history in Italy two years ago when he won a stage at the Giro d'Italia to become the first Black African to take a victory in a Grand Tour, the term that encompasses the three major three-week races: the Giro, the Tour and the Spanish Vuelta.

Girmay said: "First of all, thanks God for everything. Since I started cycling, I never dreamed to be part of the Tour de France, now I can't believe it.

"My second year in the Tour. In Africa we must be proud and part of the big races. Congrats to my whole team,. Now it's our moment. I am super happy. This for all Africa, I am just super happy."

Before the podium celebration, Girmay went over to greet Eritrean fans waving their country's green, red and blue flag.

"There is a whole continent that has been waiting for this," said Aike Visbeek, the performance director for Girmay's Intermarche-Wanty team. "It's been done now, and I hope it will open the floodgates for more riders from Africa. He's an ambassador in every way."

Biniam Girmay
Biniam Girmay celebrates on the podium after riding into the Tour de France's history books. (EPA PHOTO)

The 39-year-old Cavendish has been tied with Eddy Merckx on 34 wins for three years and put off retirement to try again this year to break the record. But he appeared to get slowed by a crash in the finale.

The mostly flat 231km leg from Piacenza to Turin - the longest stage of this year's Tour - provided the first chance for a mass sprint. But there will be at least a handful of other opportunities for sprinters after the race crosses back into France following the first four stages in Italy.

Girmay finished just ahead of Fernando Gaviria and Arnaud De Lie. Cavendish crossed 113th but was given the same finishing time as Girmay as per rules that neutralise the times in case of crashes in the final five kilometres.

"I was just looking to stay up. I'm too little to see what's going on but I could hear it," Cavendish said. "Someone skidded and I was just waiting for someone to hit from behind. Luckily they didn't and we kind of got through, but we were way off it and with 2.5K to go we were out of it. I don't think anybody was seriously hurt and that's the main thing."

Cavendish complimented Girmay, who won a reduced sprint. "That's just massive. Cycling is massive in Eritrea. It's super good for him and for African cycling," Cavendish said. "He's a legend, isn't he?"

Pogacar dropped to second overall, with the same time as Carapaz, who is the first Ecuadorian rider to wear the yellow jersey.

The race crosses back into France on Tuesday during Stage 4, the first big mountain leg going up to Sestriere and over the Col du Galibier, one of the Tour's classic climbs, in the 140km route from Pinerolo to Valloire.