Biniam Girmay takes Giro d’Italia stage in win for African cycling, withdraws after cork injury


JESI, Italy — It’s been a season of firsts for Biniam Girmay, and the Eritrean rider added a stage victory in the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday in his first Grand Tour to raise the profile of African cycling. Soon after, an accident with a prosecco cork while celebrating his historic win forced him to pull out of the race.

The Eritrean rider became the first Black African to win a stage at a Grand Tour when he beat Mathieu van der Poel in the sprint to the line in Jesi in the 10th stage on Tuesday. But he had to be taken to a local hospital after getting injured when he popped a prosecco cork into his eye during the podium celebration.

The 22-year-old Girmay celebrated with his Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux teammates when he returned from the hospital.

“When I arrived after the hospital, the bad moment, I enjoy a bit with my teammates, the staff, everybody,” 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 come back to the hotel they were super happy also.

“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.”

Girmay started his sprint early, and Van der Poel pulled even with him at one point. Then Girmay stepped up the pace, and Van der Poel — realizing he had no answer — flashed a thumbs up toward Girmay before the pair crossed the line. The Dutchman was also the first rider to give Girmay a congratulatory hug.

Girmay, who rides for the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux team, completed the stage in slightly more than 4 ½ hours. Van der Poel and Vincenzo Albanese crossed second and third, respectively, both with the same time as Girmay.

In March, Girmay became the first rider from a sub-Saharan country to win a single-day classic at the Gent-Wevelgem race.

Spanish rider Juan Pedro López of the Trek-Segafredo team maintained his 12-second lead over João Almeida in the overall standings as the three-week Giro approached the half-way stage. Romain Bardet is 14 seconds back.

The Giro ends May 29 in Verona.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

More: Olympics

Singer Cody Simpson set to make Australia swim team for world championships Elaine Thompson-Herah, world record the buzz of Birmingham; Diamond League… Johannes Ludwig retires after winning Olympic luge gold

Biniam Girmay takes Giro d’Italia stage in win for African cycling, withdraws after cork injury originally appeared on