From Injury to Glory: Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier’s Remarkable Comeback

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From Injury to Glory: Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier’s Remarkable Comeback
From Injury to Glory: Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier’s Remarkable Comeback

Africa-Press – Eritrea. Today, our guest, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, aka Pantani, is a professional cyclist from the Lidl-Trek cycling club. He was the fastest Eritrean rider in 2023, having won the Individual Time Trial (ITT) in last year’s Eritrean Cycling Championship. This cycling season, his performance in major global cycling events has been outstanding. He was named aggressive rider on stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia, and finished with the top 10 in the mountains classification. Besides, his outstanding contribution for his teammate, Jonathan Milan, to win the points classification was applauded by cycling pundits. He is now in Eritrea to compete in the Eritrean Cycling Championship 2024, which will be held on June 13 and 15. The following is a brief interview with Amanuel.

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Thank you for your time. You have now fully recovered, in fact at your best condition many would agree, after suffering an injury last year in Catalonia, Spain. This season, you have been a great asset to your team, and making headlines for yourself. How were you able to come back with such fitness?

Yeah! It wasn’t easy, and it took nearly a year to heal and resume performance fully. The race was in Barcelona, and I was in a breakaway with other cyclist, and the accident happened with only two kilometers to finish. At the time, I had several bone fractures, including three of my ribs, and my kidney had stopped working for several hours after the injury, causing me to be unable to move for two months. I stayed in a Barcelona hospital to receive therapy. While injuries are common in cycling, that one was tough. I suffered greatly, and even after returning to the race, I was using pain relievers since the pain lasted over a year. However, my teammates and club members were encouraging me when visiting my hospital room. It inspired me to have positive thinking and reinvigorate my confidence for the upcoming season. After three months, I returned to training, and after a month and a half of training, I began my first race at the Eritrean Cycling Championship 2023. And after all this suffering, I miraculously won the ITT in the 2023 Eritrean Cycling Championship.

Okay, let’s get back to this season’s race.

This season, I started racing at the 75th Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana alongside my teammate Jonathan Milan, the 2024, Giro d’Italia point classification winner. It was an excellent opportunity for me to demonstrate my abilities, and I would say we succeeded. Due to injury, this race completely changed my image, and I delivered my finest performance in this competition. After that, I also competed in the Tour of the Alps, finishing in the top ten on the first stage, and I can tell that on the final stage, I had over 80% support for my teammate Juan Pedro López to win the race general classification (GC). So, my accomplishment in the Giro d’Italia was not a sudden event; I had consistently demonstrated reasonable performance in previous competitions.

So, tell us more about the Giro d’Italia. How was it?

Thank God, the Giro d’Italia was terrific. Leading my teammates for long distances was a massive advantage to our team; sometimes, I even led for around 100 kilometers straight. Unlike teams constantly rotating leaders, this conserved our team’s energy, and as a team, it is a considerable benefit to free up the rest of the squad for other obligations. This allowed fresh legs to emerge in the final kilometers, leading out the competition’s sprinter, and this helped us a lot.

Our team’s primary goal was point classification, and six of our eight members dedicated themselves to assisting Jonathan Millan with this quest and the two others who would be playing at the GC. With the first stage not ideally suited for the point’s classification or the General Classification (GC), our team’s strategy shifted. This allowed me to be less responsible and take a chance. So, when a breakaway formed with five other riders, I jumped into the group. We pushed on for 25 kilometers before the leading group caught up. Determined, I attacked again on a climb, and then a rider from another team joined after a while. With my radio off for over 60 kilometers, I led the chase until the final 500 meters of the race. In particular, during the first week, I was assigned the dual responsibility of simultaneously working for the sprinter (on-point classification) and the GC.

Most of the time, players focus on a specific categorization. At the time, even my former teammates from other clubs were taken aback by my ability to handle twin responsibilities equally because it is very demanding. Also, at an inconvenient moment for both of these classifications, I went on a breakaway while the rest of the team was resting, and the next day I was working with my team members. This aggressive style persisted throughout the whole of the Giro. For much of the race, I helped to form breakaways, pushing the pace and testing the pack. However, by Stage 19, the cumulative fatigue started to set in, and I felt the impact in the last two stages.

As the defending ITT champion and returning from major world tours, how are you preparing for the 2024 Eritrean Championship?

This race is very important; winning it and being able to wear a jersey with your country’s flag is amazing. I know the competition will not be easy, but the most beautiful thing will be reconnecting with the fervent Eritrean cycling fans once more.

This is what we Eritrean cyclists have been waiting for, and I’m thrilled to be competing on home soil again and seeing all the familiar faces cheering me on.

Source: Eritrea Ministry Of Information

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