It was the win of his career and a landmark moment for cycling enthusiasts: Biniam Girmay, the young Eritrean electrifying the world of professional cycling, on Tuesday became the first-ever black rider to win a stage of the Giro d'Italia.
After soaring to global stardom with his monumental victory in the Belgian cobbled classic Gent-Wevelgem race, the 22 year-old poster boy for a more diverse pro peloton put in searing performances in the first week of racing, narrowly missing out on the top spot in sprints for the line.
Now into the second of three weeks' racing, Girmay secured the victory the world had been waiting for as he again beat the formidable Mathieu van der Poel (NL) in a head-to-head battle for the 11th stage. It was a sight that delighted even Van der Poel's biggest fans, as the Dutchman graciously accepted defeat.
No match for the power of Girmay, van der Poel could only acknowledge Girmay's prowess with a thumbs up as he crossed the line.
Victory can be cruel, and as Girmay ascended to the top step of the podium and was getting ready to let loose a magnum bottle of prosecco in celebration, the cork shot from the bottle straight into Girmay's left eye.
Visibly dazed, the victor squinted as he celebrated but quickly descended the podium, missing the post-race interviews as he was taken to hospital for an emergency check-up.
It is not yet clear whether the rising star will be on the start line and a decision will be taken after a night of rest. The victory will go down in history even if Girmay will be hoping to forget the podium mishap.
😬 Oh non... Brillant vainqueur de la 10e étape du #Giro, Biniam Girmay s'est blessé sur le podium en prenant le bouchon d'une bouteille de prosecco dans l'oeil #LesRP https://t.co/pWTDRujF8I pic.twitter.com/313ohJWL9W— Eurosport France (@Eurosport_FR) May 17, 2022