Biniam Girmay out of Giro d’Italia after eye injury caused by prosecco cork

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JESI, Italy — An accident with a prosecco cork while celebrating his historic stage victory at the Giro d’Italia forced Biniam Girmay to pull out of the race.

The Eritrean rider became the first Black African to win a stage at a grand tour when he beat Mathieu van der Poel in the sprint to the line in Jesi in Stage 10. But he had to be taken to a local hospital after getting injured when he popped a prosecco cork into his left eye during the podium celebration.

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. “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.”

The 22-year-old Girmay still celebrated with his Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux teammates when he returned from the hospital.

“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’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 also.

“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 soon.”

In March, Girmay became the first rider from a sub-Saharan country to win a single-day classic at the Gent-Wevelgem race.

Girmay almost won the Giro’s opening stage this year, for which he would have also worn the famous pink jersey of the overall leader. But he was edged by Van der Poel – one of the top riders in the sport – in a chaotic bunch sprint in Hungary.

“From the opening stage, Biniam Girmay showed that we were right to believe in our chances to win a stage,” Piva said. “It is remarkable to see how his teammates go though fire each day to obtain the best possible result and how happy everyone is to work with him.”

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

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ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”