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Moment Giro d’Italia stage winner accidentally fires Prosecco cork into his own face

This year’s Giro d’Italia has seen 22 teams jostling for first place as the 176 riders push themselves to their physical limits. But is there a wine-related curse for stage winners?

Credit: Twitter user Astoria_Wines

Not once but twice in this year’s race, stage winners have fired corks directly from celebratory Prosecco bottles into their own faces. It first happened with on 6 May Stage 1 victor Mathieu Van der Poel. Arriving in Visegràd, Hungary, 195km from the start line in Budapest, in 4:35:28, the Dutchman had reason to celebrate.

Toasting his place on the podium after the first day of the race, Van der Poel committed the cardinal sin of opening a bottle of sparkling wine by not securing the cork once the cage is loosened. This resulted in the cook shooting upwards into his face as he stood over. In this video from Eurosport, commentators can be heard breaking into laughter at the scene before then apologising:

Though the incidents make for amusing clips for social media, the injuries inflicted can be somewhat more serious. Biniam Girmay made history on 17 May as the first black African to win a stage of any of the three major European Grand Tours. The Eritrean beat Van der Poel, unaffected by his accident 11 days earlier, in a sprint for the finish line in Jesi, having started 196km away in Pescara.

However, celebrations were brief as tragedy popped up and Girmay’s victory Prosecco propelled its cork directly into his eye. Gaétan Scherrer, a journalist at L’Équipe, tweeted the news that Girmay was unable to attend the press conference of mixed zone after winning the tenth stage of the race.

But, though Girmay smiled on the podium, he was not okay. In a video shared to the social media of his team, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, on the morning of 18 May, Girmay announced that he had to abandon the race due to his eye injury:

With Girmay gone, Van der Poel is in better contention to win the overall race. Spain’s Juanpe López holds the leader’s pink jersey for now.

Astoria is the official wine supplier of the race. The magnum bottles being provided to stage winners to celebrate have pink foil and a pink label, to match that of the leader’s jersey. For mountain stages, the bottle has a blue label to correspond to the jersey. Astoria is yet to comment on the two accidents involving its Prosecco.

Sparkling wine corks can cause serious ocular damage. One survey from the US National Library of Medicine found that in a quarter of cork-related eye injuries sampled, the eye affected remained legally blind. The pressurised bottle itself can also lead to life changing injury, with one Danish man left in a coma when his Champagne exploded.

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