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No permanent eye damage but no Tour de France for Girmay

JESI ITALY MAY 17 Hailu Biniam Girmay of Eritrea and Team Intermarch Wanty Gobert Matriaux celebrates winning the stage on the podium ceremony after the 105th Giro dItalia 2022 Stage 10 a 196km stage from Pescara to Jesi 95m Giro WorldTour on May 17 2022 in Jesi Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Girmay on the podium before suffering his eye injury (Image credit: Tim de WaeleGetty Images)

Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) has been cleared of any permanent vision damage but is not yet able to resume training or racing. 

The Tour de France is not part of the Eritrean's comeback plans, as he makes the World Championships in Australia the focus of the second part of his season. 

Biniam Girmay suffered an eye injury when opening the celebratory bottle of Prosecco after winning stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia. The cork flew out and hit his left eye, causing a haemorrhage in the anterior chamber. 

After a trip to hospital and overnight checks, it was decided he was not fit to start stage 11 and his Giro was over straight after his breakthrough as the first Black African rider to win a Grand Tour stage.

On Tuesday, a week after the accident, Girmay underwent a new medical screening near his team's base in Belgium. It was determined that the eye had not healed enough to return to the bike, but that it should be possible within the next 10 days. 

"I am feeling better but I am not able to ride my bike just yet. Fortunately, I will not have any after-effects and this makes me happy," Girmay said. "I would like to thank the doctors for the good advice and my team for the support."

With a full recovery on the cards, attention turns to a possible comeback for the emerging Eritrean star, who also won Gent-Wevelgem in the spring. There had been speculation that he could switch schedules and make his Tour de France debut but it appears he will stick to the originally-planned structure of his season.

Girmay did similar in the spring in resisting calls for him to ride the Tour of Flanders following his Gent-Wevelgem triumph, instead returning to Eritrea as planned.

"I hope to be able to race soon and resume my race program after some rest at home in Asmara, as it was scheduled before the start of the season," Girmay said.

Team director Aike Visbeek confirmed that the Tour de France was not on the cards to Belgian newspapers at the Tour of Norway. 

"The Tour de France is not an option either. Maybe next year," Visbeek said, indicating that planned appearances at the Brussels Cycling Classic and Ronde van Limburg at the start of June had been cancelled. 

Girmay is expected to return to Europe for the Tour de Pologne at the end of July before building towards the Worlds in Australia, which take place on a hilly course that could suit versatile fast-finishers of his ilk.

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.