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"I was the first Ethiopian to be in the Giro. It was a big moment, in Ethiopia the media is all about running and football."

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19.01.2016 @ 08:00 Posted by Renaud Breban

Tsgabu Grmay will start his 2016 season in Australia at the Tour Down Under, where he was 11th overall last season. He will work for Diego Ulissi.The first Ethiopian rider in the WorldTour was interviewed by SBS and he explained that he had to prove himself at every step of the way. He also talked about his first participation at the Giro d'Italia and the next Olympics.

 

"I love cycling, now I’m riding a bike and getting money from that also. I’ve never said that this is a hard sport, because I love to ride the bike, it’s an easy thing to do," he told SBS. "I started cycling because I grew up with it, my brother was one of the good cyclists in the local races I would follow him. After that, I went to the South African training centre, then I went to the UCI centre in Switzerland, and I’ve ended up here."

 

"At that moment that was the way for me to become a good rider, lots of riders Eritrea, South Africa, even Chris Froome, they take from around the world and they are given everything, nice bike, nice training. Coming from Africa and racing in Europe was really different," he said. "I was 18, and to go from the sunshine all my life to snow and raining was a big difference. It was like a university on the bike for me, I had a lot of problems at the start, with the positioning and going downhill. I’ve done a lot of work on that, I learnt a lot, and I had also quite good results. It gave me a lot of confidence that I could be good, and reach that level. I think the UCI are doing it the right way to develop cycling."

 

Cycling ranks well behind running and football in Ethiopia. "Now I am known a bit, especially after the Giro D’Italia, I was the first Ethiopian to be in the Giro. It was a big moment, in Ethiopia the media is all about running and football. Cycling, it’s not a really big sport there, but now the government sees that the more they work with cycling the better we can develop. They start supporting me, and people know me more now", he explained. "I love cycling, now I’m riding a bike and getting money from that also. I’ve never said that this is a hard sport, because I love to ride the bike, it’s an easy thing to do,” he said. Grmay believes his success shows Ethiopia has a lot of potential to produce top riders for World Tour teams in the future, and the sport can continue to grow in his homeland."

 

"Yeah of course. It’s different because running for us, it doesn’t need more cost, you just need shoes, if you know the history, some of our runners not even that. With cycling, it’s totally different, you need the bike, parts, everything. This is very expensive, and that’s the biggest problem. If we can get over this problem, we have nice weather, altitude, a lot of climbs and good athletes. I will not say, that we can become like running, because we have Olympic winners, they win everywhere around the world. In cycling, maybe we can in a 1015 years be the second sport after running."

 

He explained that his best memory was his African Continental Championships Time Trial title. He will be really motivated for the coming season. "First thing is to develop with the team. The team have a plan for 2016, and I’m ready to be with that plan. The biggest race I’m looking to be in is the Tour de France, and I’ll have to do a good performance for every race, from the Tour Down Under to July. I’m ready for that, and if in the middle of that there is a good race that can suit me to a good result, I will do that for sure."

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