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Biniam Girmay made history at the Giro d’Italia before a freak eye injury forced him to retire from the race

By George Ramsay, CNN

Tuesday proved to be an eventful day for Biniam Girmay, who made cycling history at the Giro d’Italia but later had to go to the hospital with an eye injury sustained during his podium celebrations.

Eritrean Girmay became the first Black African to win a stage of one of cycling’s Grand Tours when he outsprinted Netherlands’ Mathieu van der Poel in the 10th stage of the Giro between Pescara and Jesi.

However, the 22-year-old had to abandon the race after a prosecco cork exploded into his left eye on the podium.

According to his Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team doctor Piet Daneels, Girmay suffered a hemorrhage in the anterior chamber of his eye and has been recommended to avoid physical activity.

“Our priority is a complete healing of the injury and that’s why we decided together with the rider and the sports director that Biniam will not appear at the start of the 11th stage,” said Daneels.

After undergoing medical examinations on Tuesday, Girmay was able to return to his hotel to celebrate with his teammates.

“The team did almost 99 percent (from) the beginning to the finish,” Girmay said.

“I am really happy about the team (and) what they did; everybody, they are super motivated before the start, during the race, after the race, we really helped each other, we supported each other. It was a good atmosphere.”

Girmay, who made his Grand Tour debut at this year’s Giro, became locked in a sprint finish with van der Poel in the final 200 meters of Tuesday’s stage and held off the Alpecin-Fenix rider to seal the victory.

Van der Poel, incidentally, was also struck by an exploding prosecco cork after the first stage of this year’s Giro, but fortunately for him remained unscathed after it struck his face.

The Giro started on May 6 and concludes on May 29. Spanish rider Juan Pedro López currently leads the general classification ahead of Portugal’s João Almeida and France’s Romain Bardet.

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