The Eritrean will be eyeing a fourth WorldTour win ahead of his Spring Classics campaign with his combination of punch and speed making him a likely contender for the non-climbing days and the blue sprints jersey.
Girmay, 23, started his last two seasons quite successfully in Spain with wins at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Mallorca Challenge, but he said he is excited about the change of plan Down Under.
“Personally, I prefer to race in the hot weather than the cold. It’s a nice race, it’s also a WorldTour race and for sure I have quite good opportunities to win stages,” Girmay said at the pre-race press conference.
“Also, it’s my first Tour Down Under so I need to change my plan for the past two years because I only started in Europe in the cold weather. I had some good results but didn’t feel very well because I could not do my best due to the weather, so we are trying to change a little bit and start here.
“To be honest I’m really focused on the beginning of the season. First here, then the Classics. After that, I have plan A and plan B so we will see how the shape is in the first races and after that, we will decide if we go for the Olympics and the Tour.”
Journalists were keen to learn of the African star’s home in Eritrea where he in fact lives at the sixth-highest capital city in the world by altitude, Asmara.
“The best thing is that I live in altitude, my home town is around 2,400m where I live, but the thing is – it’s never hot like this. In the last months, I went to the sea because I need to adapt to the heat,” said Girmay.
“I have a really good time at home for training but to be honest I don’t know what my shape is because we haven’t raced yet – we only had the crit a few days ago – I felt okay.”
Girmay was 51st in the Down Under Classic where Intermaché-Wanty teammate Madis Mihkels was the best-placed rider from the Belgian team in 18th, but he should be raring to go in the punchy finishes and flat sprints across the six stages of racing starting in Tanunda and reaching its climax up Mount Lofty.
The Eritrean has become a star of world cycling in recent years, making history with his victories at Gent-Wevelegem and the Giro d’Italia in 2022. However, a crash-marred 2023 meant he couldn’t make as much progress last…