History-maker Biniam Girmay, who became the first-ever Black African winner of a Grand Tour stage, has been forced to withdraw from the race after suffering a freak eye injury during his podium celebrations. The 22-year-old from Eritrea beat Mathieu van der Poel during the sprint to win stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday.
Yet his exceptional triumph was unfortunately marred by a bizarre incident that saw him pop a Prosecco cork into his own eye.
Girmay was later taken to hospital to get checked over, missing the post-race press conference as a result.
But thankfully his team later confirmed he returned to celebrate the life-changing victory with his team-mates.
It’s the first-ever time Girmay, who rides for Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert, has raced at this year’s Giro.
He was able to keep Van der Poel at bay during the sprint in Jesi and even received a congratulatory thumbs up from his rival as the Dutchman conceded defeat.
Girmay was attempting to open the winner’s bottle of champagne when he began to struggle with the cork.
The elated winner then leaned over the top of the still bottle before the erupting cork exploded in his face.
Temporarily, Girmay continued to celebrate with his left eye closed before on-sight medics advised him to get checked over in hospital.
Thankfully, he later received the green light and there was no lasting damage.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Girmay after the race. “Every day brings new history so I’m really grateful and happy.
“Since the start, we controlled [the stage]. I don’t have any words for my team for what they did today.
“When we started the Giro, we knew we had a possibility to win so this is all part of the success of our team, my family, everybody.”
Former British Athletics star Theo Campbell, who later became a reality star on ITV’s Love Island, lost all sight in his right eye after a similarly freak accident in August 2019.
The 30-year-old later sued Wayne Lineker’s Ibiza club Ocean Beach after he was struck in the eye by a cork.
Campbell has since had upwards of 10 operations on his eye to restore his vision.