Biniam Girmay pulls out of Giro d’Italia after a cork struck him in the EYE after historic win


Biniam Girmay pulls out of the Giro d’Italia after suffering bleeding to his EYE when he was struck by an exploding champagne cork on the podium… just moments after making history by becoming the first black African winner of a Grand Tour stage

  • Biniam Girmay became the first African winner of a Grand Tour stage on Tuesday
  • During the podium ceremony he was struck in the eye by a prosecco cork 
  • The 22-year-old Eritrean was taken to hospital immediately after the podium
  • He has been forced to pull out of the Giro d’Italia event due to his injury

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Joy has turned to despair for cyclist Biniam Girmay who has been forced to pull out of the Giro d’Italia after his historic stage win on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Eritrean became the first black African rider to win a stage of a Grand Tour, when he beat Mathieu van der Poel in a reduced sprint on stage 10 of the Giro in Jesi.

His celebrations were cut short though when a cork exploded directly at his eye when he was trying to open a Prosecco bottle on the podium.

Biniam Girmay became the first black African to win a stage of a Grand Tour on Tuesday


Girmay’s celebrations were cut short after a Prosecco cork hit him in eye on the podium

The 22-year-old Eritrean instantly placed his hand over his eye after he was struck by the cork

He started spraying the bottle but couldn’t open his eye and was then taken to hospital

He immediately placed his hand over his left eye in pain, before spraying the drink while keeping his eye shut. 

Girmay spent several hours at a local hospital before returning to his hotel to celebrate with his Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux team.

However, he will take no further part in the Giro due to his eye injury as doctor Piet Daneels told Sporza that the cyclist had ‘a bleeding in the anterior chamber of the eye’.

In a video posted by his team, the 22-year-old said: ‘Yesterday when I arrived (at the hotel) after the hospital, the bad moment, I enjoyed it (his victory) a bit with my team-mates, the staff, everybody.

The 22-year-old was seen wincing on the podium before he was taken to hospital

‘I am happy now, I was a bit sad about what happened with the champagne but when I came back they were super happy.

‘But today unluckily I didn’t start the race because still, my eye, I need some rest to give more power to the eye. I’m just looking forward to the rest of the season. Thank you to everybody who supported me and pushed me. I’m OK now. See you soon.’

Team doctors Daneels said Girmay ‘could not see’ initially after the incident and has had to pull out as he recovers from the injury. 

He said: ‘His injury is evolving in the right direction and will be followed up by a medical team in the next days. In order to minimize the risk of expansion of the hemorrhage and the intraocular pressure, it is strongly recommended to avoid physical activity.

The 22-year-old beat Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel in a sprint for the line on stage 10

It was confirmed due to his injury that Girmay has had to pull out of the rest of the Giro

‘Our priority is a complete healing of the injury and that’s why we decided together with the rider and the sports direction that Biniam will not appear at the start of the eleventh stage.’

A lumpy finish to the 196km stage from Pescara had left the peloton in pieces with Girmay and Mathieu van der Poel the only real sprinters left, and after Girmay launched his move Van der Poel gave up in his bid to come around the Eritrean and offered a salute as he crossed the line. 

After his victory, he said: ‘It’s unbelievable. I thank the team. We started the race well, we controlled it. I don’t have any words for my team.’

‘When I started the Giro we had the possibility to win and make good results – this is also part of the success of our team, my family and everybody.

‘Every day comes new history so I’m really grateful and happy that I did it.’

The 22-year-old had already made history this season, with his victory at Gent-Wevelgem in March making him the first African to win a Belgian cobbled classic.



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