Biniam Girmay: The first black African to win a Grand Tour stage abandons the Giro d’Italia

Biniam Girmay
Biniam Girmay won the 194km 10th stage of the Giro d’Italia from Pescara to Jesi

Biniam Girmay was forced to retire from the Giro d’Italia a day after making history as the first black African winner of a Grand Tour stage.

Eritrean Greece won stage 10 on Tuesday but went to hospital after putting a capful of prosecco in his left eye while celebrating on the podium.

Although he returned later to savor the victory with his teammates, he was unfit to start on Wednesday.

The Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert runner said he was “OK now” but needed to recover.

“I was a bit sad about what happened with the champagne and my teammates were a bit scared,” admitted Girmay.

“But today I didn’t start the race because my eye needs more rest.

“Yesterday, when I arrived after the hospital, I enjoyed the victory with my teammates.

“I’m fine now. Thank you all for supporting me.”

Team doctor Piet Daneels said medical examinations revealed a haemorrhage in Girmay’s left eye and the decision to remove it had been made to “minimize the risk” of it expanding.

The 22-year-old, who is making his Grand Tour debut in Italy, beat Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel in a thrilling sprint for the line at Jesi.

Girmay described his win as “incredible” immediately after the stage, but he was unable to attend a post-race press conference after being taken to hospital.

“First of all, I say thank you to my whole team, the staff and everyone,” added Girmay. “The team did almost 99% from the start of the stage to the finish.

“I’m really happy with what the team did. Everyone was super motivated before the race. This victory was for the whole team.”

Stage 11 – a 203km flat course from Santarcangelo di Romagna to Reggio Emilia – would have given the 22-year-old the chance to score another memorable victory.

Girmay, who was denied victory by Van der Poel on the first stage of the Giro, became the first black African to win a World Tour race at the Belgian classic Gent-Wevelgem in March.

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