Giro d’Italia organisers removed the corks from Prosecco bottles prior to the podium celebrations on Wednesday after Biniam Girmay took one to the face after his historic win a day earlier.
Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux) was taken to hospital after being struck in his left eye – just minutes after becoming the first Black African to win a stage at a Grand Tour.
The 21-year-old withdrew from the race on Wednesday morning, saying he needed “some rest to give more power to the eye”.
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Reports circulated on Wednesday morning that the race organisers, RCS, were considering tweaking the ‘Prosecco protocol’ in light of Girmay’s injury.
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) was also struck in the neck by a cork on the podium after winning the opening stage.
Stage 11 winner Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) and maglia rosa Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) had the simple task of spraying the fizz without worrying about the cork during Wednesday’s ceremony.
“You see with a bit of a shake you still get the same effect and keep that tradition,” said Robbie McEwen on The Breakaway after earlier advocating for the change to the podium.
“I would like to see that stay a tradition and something so simple… it would have been good if they did it a day ago.”
The one positive for Girmay is his unfortunate withdrawal could mean a call-up to the Tour de France, with his form in Italy suggesting he is capable of starring on cycling’s biggest stage.
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