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An Eritrean cyclist who became the first Black African to win a stage on Italy’s Giro d’Italia suffered a scary injury while celebrating the victory on Tuesday.
Biniam Girmay, of Eritrea, popped the prosecco bottle and the cork hit him in his left eye. Girmay was rushed to a hospital and tests revealed he suffered a hemorrhage in his eye. The team doctor “strongly recommended” he avoid physical activity and he was forced to withdraw from Wednesday’s race.
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“The news about the incident felt like a cold shower,” Girmay’s team director Valerio Piva said. “It is of course a pity to lose an element like Biniam, but the advice of the medical team is clear and the health of Biniam is our priority.”
Girmay, who rides for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, won the sprint to the finish line in Jesi. He nearly won the first race of the tour.
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He was greeted by his teammates when he returned to his hotel from the hospital.
“When I arrived after the hospital, the bad moment, I enjoy a bit with my teammates, the staff, everybody,” he said in a video posted to his team’s Twitter account. “I’m also happy now. I was a bit sad about what happened with the champagne but when I come back to the hotel they were super happy too.
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“They were a bit afraid but when I looked OK we really enjoyed. But today luckily I didn’t start the race because still my eyes, I need some rest to give more power to the eye … I’m OK now, see you so on.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.