Novi Ligure - Caleb Ewan has dropped out of the Giro d'Italia shortly after winning the last sprint before the race starts to climb the big mountains, the specialist sprinter announced on Wednesday.
His team, Lotto Soudal, wrote on their web site that "the Australian returns home with two stage victories to prepare for the Tour de France during the upcoming weeks."
Ewan added the stage in Novi Ligure on Wednesday to a victory four days earlier at Pesaro.
"I am happy that I came to the Giro, the succession of the long and sometimes challenging stages will have done me good, condition-wise," Ewan was quoted as saying on the team web site.
"I am going home with a great feeling. I came into the Giro and I really wanted to win one stage. To get two is more than I expected, so I am really satisfied with that."
Thursday's 12th stage covers 156km between Cuneo and Pinerolo at the start of a brutal week in which much of the Giro route runs through the Alps with only stage 18 offering a possible sprint finish.
"I think it makes sense that the sprinters leave the Giro prematurely," Ewan said.
"From now on, there are virtually only tough stages left, so not very suited to us. I think that the organisation prefers to have to best sprinters at the start. Although they do not finish the Giro, it still guarantees some nice battles in the flat stages.