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Giro d'Italia

Biniam Girmay will not start Giro d’Italia a day after historic win

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert officials confirm Girmay will not race as a precautionary move after cork strikes eye in post-stage celebration.

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Biniam Girmay will not start Wednesday’s 11th stage at the Giro d’Italia a day after his historic win as the first Black African rider to win a grand tour stage.

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert confirmed the Eritrean sprinter will not start as a precautionary move after a cork struck his left eye in the post-stage celebration on the winner’s podium.

Girmay struggled to open a bottle of celebratory prosecco and placed the bottle on the ground as he worked to open the cork. The cork then exploded into his face, striking him directly on the left eye.

“The team was amazing. They did 99 percent of the work yesterday,” Girmay said in a social media post. “Yesterday when I arrived after the hospital in a bad moment I enjoyed it with the staff. I was a bit sad about what happened, but when I came back to the hotel, they were super happy for me.

“Today I did not start the race because my eyes need some rest to give more power to the eye. Now I am looking forward to the next races in the season. I am OK now.”

Girmay was seen grimacing on the podium, and then skipped a post-stage press conference to go directly to a local hospital.

Also read: Girmay kicks to historic win at Giro d’Italia

Hours later he was released with a bandage covering his eye. Doctors told Eurosport that Girmay struggled to see after the initial impact, but that his vision returned without complications.

A similar incident happened to Mathieu van der Poel after he won the opening stage in Hungary. The Dutch rider also placed the bottle on the ground, but the cork blew onto his shoulder and then bounced to strike his face and cheek.

Girmay later returned to the team hotel and celebrated his victory with riders and staff.

Also read: How a super Intermarché set up Girmay for history

It’s unsure how long he will be sidelined. The Giro was the culmination of a very busy and eventful spring for the WorldTour rookie, who also made history when he won Gent-Wevelgem this spring.

His next scheduled races are not until June, and he’s slated to race a string of one-day and smaller stage races going into the 2022 world championships in Australia.

There is some speculation, however, that the team might bring Girmay to the Tour de France starting in Copenhagen.