Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) said he came to the Giro d'Italia to win a stage after returning from a nine-month ban for sparking last year's Tour de Pologne crash of Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep). But the Dutchman will depart the Italian Grand Tour empty handed after his fourth top-10 finish in Verona on Friday.
"My Giro is over after today, I enjoyed the race feeling and the discussions," Groenewegen wrote on social media. "The feeling I need to win is back and I will start to prepare for the next goals, furthermore I want to thank my team who went for it every sprint."
Groenewegen was initially slated to resume his career at the Tour of Hungary after the near-death crash of Jakobsen last August. Jumbo-Visma added him to the Giro lineup in a surprise announcement three weeks ago after his ban ended on May 7.
There are only two more possible sprint stages left in the Giro d'Italia, and only one that could possibly suit pure sprinters being stage 15 to Gorizia. But with Saturday's finish on Monte Zoncolan standing in the way of that stage on Sunday, Groenewegen opted to pull the plug.
His best finish was fourth on stage 2 to Novara, after which he said, "Going into the final, it was a little bit strange, but it was also really nice. It was a nice moment that I could sprint again with the best sprinters. And a fourth place is not so bad."
He was unable to improve upon that result, however, and teammate Eduardo Affini claimed the team's best finish so far, taking second in Verona on Friday after a powerful late attack.
Sports director Arthur van Dongen explained that Affini was to lead out the sprint for Groenewegen but lost him in the run-in.
"The plan was of course to just sprint with Dylan," Van Dongen said. "Edoardo did a perfect lead out, but there was some confusion in the group when he attacked. It was great to see how hard he cycled and almost won. Unfortunately Dylan lost our men in the scramble. Also because David did not have good legs today. I understand that Edoardo has double feelings when he gets on the bus."
Groenewegen will depart the race along with David Dekker, leaving Tobias Foss, ninth overall, with five riders in support of George Bennett, who was third on stage 12.
"The pipe is quite empty with both guys. David is a neo pro who has never raced for thirteen days in a row and Dylan had not raced for quite some time before the Giro," Van Dongen said. "As a team we are really satisfied with how they have performed in recent days, but to continue now would be too much for them. Those guys need to get some rest and then look forward to the upcoming races."
Groenewegen is hardly the first sprinter to leave this year's Giro. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) climbed off on stage 8 after two stage wins and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) departed after stage 10 with one victory.
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