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An Eritrean cyclist who became the first Black African to win a stage on Italy’s Giro d’Italia suffered a scary injury while celebrating the victory on Tuesday.
Biniam Girmay, of Eritrea, popped the prosecco bottle and the cork hit him in his left eye. Girmay was rushed to a hospital and tests revealed he suffered a hemorrhage in his eye. The team doctor “strongly recommended” he avoid physical activity and he was forced to withdraw from Wednesday’s race.
Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay celebrates as he crosses the finish line of the 10th stage of the Giro D’Italia cycling race from Pescara to Jesi, Italy, Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Massimo Paolone/LaPresse via AP)
“The news about the incident felt like a cold shower,” Girmay’s team director Valerio Piva said. “It is of course a pity to lose an element like Biniam, but the advice of the medical team is clear and the health of Biniam is our priority.”
Girmay, who rides for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, won the sprint to the finish line in Jesi. He nearly won the first race of the tour.
Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay celebrates as he crosses the finish line Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Massimo Paolone/LaPresse via AP)
He was greeted by his teammates when he returned to his hotel from the hospital.
“When I arrived after the hospital, the bad moment, I enjoy a bit with my teammates, the staff, everybody,” he said in a video posted to his team’s Twitter account. “I’m also happy now. I was a bit sad about what happened with the champagne but when I come back to the hotel they were super happy also.
Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay was then taken to a local hospital after getting injured when he popped a champagne cork into his eye during the podium celebration on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Massimo Paolone/LaPresse via AP)
“They were a bit afraid but when I looked OK we really enjoyed. But today luckily I didn’t start the race because still my eyes, I need some rest to give more power to the eye … I’m OK now, see you soon.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.