Biniam Girmay doesn't have permanent eye damage: 'I'm happy I will not have any after-effects'

The Eritrean will return to training soon, but isn't expected to race at the Tour de France

Biniam Girmay
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Biniam Girmay's Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux team have confirmed that he hasn't suffered any permanent eye damage, but he isn't able to train or race for the next week. 

Girmay made history on stage ten by becoming the first black African to win at the Giro d'Italia, but disaster - or more specifically, a cork - struck. 

During the podium celebrations, the cork from the winner's bottle of Prosecco struck the Intermarché rider in the eye. He suffered a haemorrhage in the anterior chamber of his left eye, and subsequently withdrew from the rest of the Grand Tour. 

The Eritrean underwent additional medical examinations on Tuesday in Belgium, which showed he hasn't suffered any permanent eye damage but does need some rest. He will now return to Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, before he begins training again with the team.

"I feel better, I'm happy I will not have any after-effects," Girmay said (opens in new tab). "I would like to thank the doctors and my team for the support. I hope to be able to race soon after some rest at home in Asmara. I kept following the team in the Giro, I'm so happy for their success."

Indeed, Intermarché have enjoyed strong performances at this year's Giro, securing two stage wins (so far) through Girmay and Jan Hirt, and a further nine top-five finishes. Both Hirt and Pozzovivo are also in the top-ten on GC, making the edition a real success for the team from Wallonne. 

It is not known when Girmay will compete again, and certainly don't expect him to be at the Tour de France. The Tour isn't on his schedule, and Intermarché's success this season has been built on sticking to a specific strategy.

The team's directeur sportif, Aike Visbeek, told Cycling Weekly (opens in new tab) that there is a specific goal in plan for Girmay over the coming months, which doesn't involve riding the Tour de France. Recognising he is still just 22-years-old, Visbeek suggests there is still plenty of time for Girmay to race there in the future. 

"At the moment, it is not our plan," Visbeek said. "We have a plan for August and September with clear goals there. The thing that decides most of this is his injury and what his doctors say, but at the moment we will leave his plan as it is. 

"Biniam is a top cyclist, his goal is to win races, not to just win the Tour de France. At the moment, it is also in the mind to not be busy with that." 

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Hi, I'm a Trainee News Writer at Cycling Weekly. 


I have worked for Future across its various sports titles since December 2020, writing news for Cycling Weekly, FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture. I am currently studying for a NCTJ qualification alongside my role as Trainee News Writer at the company. 


Prior to joining Future I attended Cardiff University, earning a degree in Journalism & Communications.