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Biniam Girmay out of Giro d'Italia after freak eye injury

Biniam Girmay out of Giro d'Italia after freak eye injury
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Giro d'Italia stage 10 winner Biniam Girmay abandons the Grand Tour race after popping a champagne cork into his eye while celebrating his historic triumph.

History-making cyclist Biniam Girmay has been forced to pull out of the Giro d'Italia after a freak eye injury involving a bottle cork.

The Eritrean - who rides for Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert - headed into the three-week event seeking to become the first-ever black African rider to win a stage at a Grand Tour.

Girmay achieved that feat during Tuesday's 10th stage as he pipped Mathieu van der Poel to victory in the 194 km ride from Pescara to Jesi.

However, while celebrating on the podium with a bottle of champagne, the cork struck the 22-year-old's left eye and led to him requiring hospital treatment.

Following the incident, Girmay has now confirmed that he will not be starting the race in a message posted from the Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Twitter account.

"First I say thanks to all my team, the staff and everybody. I'm really happy with what the team did. Everybody was super motivating before the race. This victory was for all the team," Girmay said.

"Yesterday when I arrived from the hospital I enjoyed a bit with my teammates. I was a bit sad about what happened with the champagne, but when I came back to the hotel they were super happy.

"They were also a bit afraid but it looks okay. Today I didn't start the race because of my eye - I need more rest to give more power to my eye.

"So I'm now just looking forward to the next season. Thank you to everybody supporting me and pushing me. I am OK now. See you soon."

Team doctor Piet Daneels explained to Eurosport that a decision on Girmay's participation in stage 11 would not be made until Wednesday morning, and the medical chief confirmed that the rider had indeed suffered a haemorrhage.

"Following an incident on the podium, medical examinations revealed a haemorrhage in the anterior chamber of the left eye of Biniam Girmay," Daneels explained.

"His injury is evolving in the right direction and will be followed up by a medical team in the next days. In order to minimise the risk of expansion of the haemorrhage and the intraocular pressure, it is strongly 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."

Girmay will reportedly expect to be fit for the start of the Tour de France on July 1 and withdraws having been only three points behind Arnaud Demare in the hunt for the maglia ciclamino.

Van der Poel now finds himself second in the points classification, with Great Britain's Mark Cavendish moving up to third.

Wednesday's race sees riders tackle a 203 km flat stage from Santarcangelo di Romagna to Reggio Emilia, and Juan Pedro Lopez remains in possession of the maglia rosa.

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Arnaud Demare pictured at the Giro d'Italia on May 11, 2022
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