Celebratory Cork Knocks Cyclist Out of Race

Biniam Girmay resumed the festivities after a trip to the hospital
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 18, 2022 6:10 PM CDT
Cyclist Wins, Pops Cork, Injures His Eye
Eritrea's Biniam Girmay celebrates on the podium after winning the 10th stage of the Giro D'Italia cycling race Tuesday.   (Massimo Paolone/LaPresse via AP)

An Eritrean cyclist who was celebrating a victory at the Giro d'Italia cycling competition was struck in the eye by a cork popped from a bottle of Italian sparkling wine and forced to withdraw Wednesday from the race. Biniam Girmay had just become the first Black African to win a stage at a grand tour when he won the sprint to the line in the Italian city of Jesi, the 10th stage of the 2,162-mile Giro competition on Tuesday. But he was rushed to a hospital after getting hit in the left eye by a prosecco cork he popped open during the podium celebration, the AP reports.

Medical tests revealed a hemorrhage in his eye, and the team doctor said it was “strongly recommended" he avoid physical activity. "The news about the incident felt like a cold shower," said Girmay's team director, Valerio Piva, who called the withdrawal a pity but necessary. The 22-year-old Girmay still celebrated the victory over Mathieu van der Poel—one of the top riders in the sport—with his Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux teammates when he returned from the hospital. He said they were relieved to see he was OK. "When I arrived after the hospital, the bad moment, I enjoy a bit with my teammates, the staff, everybody," Girmay said in a video on his team's social media channel. "I was a bit sad about what happened with the champagne, but when I come back to the hotel they were super happy also."

(Read more celebration stories.)

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