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Biniam Girmay pulls out of Giro d'Italia with eye injury one day after historic stage win

The National logo The National 18/05/2022 The National
Team Wanty's Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay Hailu rubs his eye after popping a champagne cork as he celebrates on the podium after winning the 10th stage of the Giro d'Italia 2022 cycling race, 196 kilometers between Pescara and Jesi, central Italy, on May 17, 2022. - History-maker Biniam Girmay pulled out of the Giro d'Italia before the start of the 11th stage, with an eye injury he suffered when he was struck by a champagne cork. (Photo by Luca Bettini / AFP) © LUCA BETTINI Team Wanty's Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay Hailu rubs his eye after popping a champagne cork as he celebrates on the podium after winning the 10th stage of the Giro d'Italia 2022 cycling race, 196 kilometers between Pescara and Jesi, central Italy, on May 17, 2022. - History-maker Biniam Girmay pulled out of the Giro d'Italia before the start of the 11th stage, with an eye injury he suffered when he was struck by a champagne cork. (Photo by Luca Bettini / AFP)

Biniam Girmay, Eritrea's history-making cyclist, has been forced to withdraw from the Giro d'Italia with a left eye injury he suffered after being hit by a bottle cork while celebrating Tuesday's stage victory.

Intermarche rider Girmay became the first black African to win a Grand Tour stage after claiming the honours on Tuesday's 10th stage of this year's Giro, between Pescara and Jesi.

Intermarche's team doctor Piet Daneels said tests showed "haemorrhage in the anterior chamber of the left eye".

"In consultation with the medical and sport staff, the decision has been made that Biniam Girmay will not take part any longer in this Giro d'Italia, which he is leaving with a stage victory, a second place and three other top five finishes," Intermarche said in a statement.

"The injury is moving in the right direction but in order not to aggravate it it has been strongly advised to avoid intense activities."

The cyclist had placed the bottle on the floor and bent over it as he undid the binding before the cork flew off, hitting him from close range. Girmay was treated at a hospital in Jesi before heading to a party held by his team in the seaside resort of Riccione on Tuesday evening.

He is due to have further tests on the eye and left the team hotel on Wednesday morning with his manager after bidding farewell to his teammates

Girmay has carved out a name for himself in the world of cycling, establishing himself as one of the sport's best sprinters. He had already made history this season when he became the first African winner of a classic, the Ghent-Wevelgem, at the end of March.

He shot to attention at the world championships when he became the first black African man to feature on the podium when he came second in the under-23's at the 2021 event in Belgium. He has already racked up eight wins since turning professional in 2020.

On Tuesday the 22-year-old cyclist had proven too strong for Mathieu van der Poel, who threw up his hands in resignation after a long struggle for the line at Jesi.

"I watched the Giro as a kid on television and then went out riding with the dream of one day taking part," Girmay said, before his podium accident. We write a little piece of history every day. I'm really happy about what I did today, I don't have the words to describe it."

Girmay leaves the Giro second in the sprint points race, just three points behind Frenchman Arnaud Demare on 151, with Van der Poel third another 58 points behind.

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