Biniam Girmay out of cycling worlds, cites injury after visa report

GLASGOW, Scotland -- Eritrean star rider Biniam Girmay has withdrawn from the cycling world championships in Scotland citing injury, hours after it was reported he and three teammates had been denied visas to enter the U.K.

The 23-year-old Girmay, who last year became the first Black African to win a Grand Tour stage at the Giro d'Italia, was seen as a candidate to become Africa's first world champion in Sunday's men's road race on a Classics-style course that could have played to his strengths.

But his team Intermarche Circus Wanty issued a statement Wednesday morning that said Girmay would not be able to race following a crash at San Sebastian last weekend.

"I'm of course very disappointed to withdraw from the selection for the world championships, which were a main goal for this season since last winter," Girmay said in the statement. "I had a good feeling after the Tour de France, but my crash in the Clasica San Sebastian caused too severe pain to be able to defend my chances in the worlds."

The statement came soon after it was reported by the Global Cycling Network that Girmay and teammates Natnael Tesfatsion, Merhawi Kudus and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier had all been denied visas.

Kudus retweeted the GCN link to the story, writing "Sad!!" and tagging world governing body the UCI and the local organizers of the championships.