JESI, Italy — An Eritrean cyclist celebrating a win in the Giro d’Italia cycling competition was hit in the eye by a cork popped from a bottle of Italian sparkling wine and forced to retire from the race on Wednesday. race.
Biniam Girmay had just become the first black African to win a stage on a grand tour when he won the sprint to the line in the Italian town of Jesi, stage 10 of the 2,162-mile Giro competition on Tuesday . But he was rushed to hospital after being hit in the left eye by a cork of prosecco he opened during the podium celebration.
Medical tests revealed a haemorrhage in his eye and the team doctor said it was ‘strongly recommended’ to avoid all physical activity.
“The news of the incident was like a cold shower,” Girmay team principal Valerio Piva said. “Of course it’s a shame to lose someone like Biniam, but the advice from the medical team is clear and Biniam’s health is our priority.”
Girmay, 22, celebrated the victory over Mathieu van der Poel – one of the best riders in the sport – with his teammates from Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux on his return from hospital.
“When I arrived after the hospital, the wrong time, I had a little fun with my teammates, the staff, everyone,” Girmay said in a video on his team’s social media channel.
“I’m also happy now. I was a bit sad about what happened with the champagne, but when I came back to the hotel they were super happy too,” he said.
“They were a bit scared but when I looked good we really enjoyed it. But today luckily I didn’t start because my eyes still, I need a rest to give more power to the eye… I’m fine now, see you soon.
In March, Girmay became the first rider from a sub-Saharan country to win a one-day classic in the Ghent-Wevelgem race.
Girmay almost won the opening stage of the Giro this year, for which he would also have worn the famous pink jersey of overall leader. But he was edged out by Van der Poel in a chaotic peloton sprint in Hungary.
“From the opening stage, Biniam Girmay showed that we were right to believe in our chances of winning a stage,” said team principal Piva. “It’s remarkable to see how his teammates fight every day to get the best possible result and how happy everyone is to work with him.”