Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) has decided to take an early leave from the Giro d'Italia, on a high note after securing two stage wins, in order to adequately prepare for the Tour de France in July. It was a successful Grand Tour for the Australian who captured his first victory on stage 8 in Pesaro on Saturday and his second on stage 11 in Novi Ligure on Wednesday.
"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 said in a team press release. "Of course, 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 and I am happy with how the team rode as well.
Outside of his two stage wins, Ewan was also third on stage 2 in Fucecchio, second on stage 4 in Frascati, and was twice fourth on stage 5 in Terracina and stage 10 in Modena.
"I finished inside the top four on seven occasions," Ewan said. "On day two, our lead-out was perfect, two days later I was beaten by a strong Carapaz in Frascati and on day eight, I could raise my arms in the air for the first time."
Ewan came to the Giro d'Italia with a strong support team that included Victor Campenaerts, Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Adam Hansen, Roger Kluge, Jelle Vanendert and Tosh van der Sande.
"This Giro was also very important to optimize the collaboration with Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge and we certainly got the chance to do so," Ewan said. "Besides, the rest of the team also cooperated very well."
Tour de France
Ewan isn't the only sprinter to leave the Giro d'Italia early. As the race heads into the mountains there will be few opportunities left for the fastmen in the peloton. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) won stage 3 after Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was relegated but he didn't finish stage 7 citing pain in his left knee. Viviani decided to go home early having been unsuccessful at earning a stage win during this year's edition.
Remaining in the race, however, are Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe). Both sprinters have won stages during the opening week and Démare now leads the points classification after stage 11.
"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."
Following his stage 11 victory, Ewan told the press that it was his most successful Grand Tour. He had previously won a stage of the Vuelta a España in 2015 and a stage of the Giro d'Italia while racing for Mitchelton-Scott in 2017, but he hasn't raced a Grand Tour since.
He signed a contract with Lotto Soudal in hopes of having more opportunities in the Grand Tours and particularly to get a start spot on the roster for the Tour de France. Lotto Soudal management decided that it was best that Ewan test himself in the sprints at the Giro d'Italia before taking on the sprinters at the Tour de France. Now with two stage wins, Ewan will return home to recover before beginning specific preparations for July.
"I will take some days of rest now and then go on a training camp to prepare for the Tour."