Biniam Girmay became the first black African to win a stage of a Grand Tour with victory in the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday but his race is now over after an accident during his podium celebration.
Girmay, 22, 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, and out-sprinted Mathieu van der Poel on stage 10 of the Giro in Jesi to add another landmark moment for the sport.
But his celebrations were cut short when he was hit in the eye by the cork from a Prosecco bottle on the post-race podium.
As we saw a tweet from @IntermarcheWG about the history 🇪🇷 Biniam made, we might be able to conclude that Girmay is okay and not seriously injured.
The bottle pops in full force right in his eye. Seems like the big bottles create some trouble opening them. #Giro
🎥 Sporza pic.twitter.com/ypMdp6BUN9
— Domestique (@Domestique___) May 17, 2022
Girmay missed the usual post-stage press conference to go to hospital, and was later pictured with a bandage over his eye, before he withdrew from the race ahead of Wednesday’s stage 11 to Reggio Emilia.
It was a cruel finish to an historic day.
A lumpy end to the 196km stage from Pescara had left the peloton in pieces with Girmay and van der Poel the only real sprinters left in a much-reduced front group. 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.
Speaking before his accident on the podium, Girmay 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.”
His interview was interrupted several times by well-wishers from the peloton, but Girmay returned to add: “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.”