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It’s A Harsh Sport: Eritrean Biniam Girmay Makes Cycling History …Then Retires From Race

Eritrean cycling star Biniam Girmay has made cycling history at the Giro d’Italia, the 22yo becoming the first black African to win a Grand Tour stage.

In his first Grand Tour, Girmay triumphed at the end of a 196km stage by out-sprinting none other than Mathieu van der Poel.

“We came to this Giro with the aim to win a stage, knowing that if I succeeded, I would enter cycling history,” the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert star said after the stage.

“After several top five finishes, I became the first black African to win a Grand Tour stage,” he continued.

“I’m so grateful for the support of my teammates, the staff, my family, all people encouraging me! They are there for me every day, this victory belongs to them. My teammates all rode in the front for me. Barnabás Peák, Loïc Vliegen, Aimé De Gendt, Rein Taaramäe, Lorenzo Rota and even our GC riders Jan Hirt and Domenico Pozzovivo gave everything to give me the opportunity to take this win. In the final 600 meter, Domenico shouted that I had to follow him. He launched me perfectly. This victory makes me so happy.”

A Bittersweet Win

But, just moments after the win, Girmay and the team’s celebrations turned to heartbreak at the podium presentation. Leaning down to open the giant bottle of prosecco, the cork popped prematurely and hit Girmay hard in the left eye. He managed to complete podium duties but looked to be in pain, and was later transferred to a local hospital to have his bruised eye checked.

Later that evening the team issued a statement to say the hospital visit revealed damage in the left eye, which require the utmost care and rest.

‘So in consultation with the medical and sportive staff, the decision has been made that Biniam Girmay will not start anymore in this Giro d’Italia, which he is leaving with a stage victory, a second place and three other top five finishes. Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux stays ambitious for this 105th edition of the Giro, with a selection that is able to chase more stage victories and is aiming to finish with one rider in the top ten of the final classification.’

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