PESCARA, Italy (Reuters) -Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay became the first Black African rider to win a Grand Tour stage with an impressive sprint to claim stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday, before his celebrations were brought to a premature end by a cork.
The Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert rider appeared to be struck in the left eye while attempting to uncork a bottle of prosecco on the podium, following which he was taken for a hospital check-up.
The 22-year-old had recovered from nearly missing a left turn with just over 6 km to go and fended off Mathieu van der Poel to win the 196-km ride from the coastal town of Pescara to Jesi.
Girmay, who finished second in the opening stage, was led out by team mate Domenico Pozzovivo in the final stretch.
“I started the Giro with the desire to win a stage. Everyone from the team pulled for me today, even the (general classification) riders, Domenico Pozzovivo was amazing at the end,” Girmay said after the race.
“At 600m to go, he said ‘come’. He pushed me to go and win. I realise I’m making history but it’s thanks to my team and my family. I’m really grateful to them.”
Italy’s Alessandro De Marchi and Mattia Bais as well as Belgian Lawrence Naesen took the early initiative, pulling clear of the peloton in the flat first half of the stage and earning themselves a six-minute lead after 55 km.
The chasing pack slowly and steadily closed the gap on the breakaway group in the second half of the stage, which featured numerous climbs.
Bais and Naesen were caught up with 23 km to go, with De Marchi dropping back into the main group minutes later, before Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert’s riders thronged to the front of the peloton and positioned Girmay for the win.
Spaniard Juan Pedro Lopez retained his 12-second lead to hold on to the overall leader’s “maglia rosa” pink jersey.
There was little movement towards the top of the overall standings, with Portugal’s Joao Almeida remaining second, followed by Romain Bardet, Richard Carapaz and Jai Hindley, who all retained their spots.
Wednesday’s 11th stage is a flat route spanning 203 km from Santarcangelo di Romagna to Reggio Emilia.
(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis)