The Qhubeka Assos sprinter broke a run of 11 second-placed finishes at the race on Friday's stage in Verona, sprinting to victory ahead of Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), but is now planning to recover and recalibrate ahead of his next goals, including a return to the Tour de France.
Nizzolo is the latest in a string of sprinters to take the decision to leave the race early. Double stage winner Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) withdrew with knee pain on stage 8, Jumbo-Visma pair Dylan Groenewegen and David Dekker have also headed home, while stage 2 winner Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) left after 10 days, citing fatigue.
"Everybody knows how much I love this race, and what it means to me," Nizzolo, who is also Italian road champion, said in a statement issued by his team. "To finally win a stage here has been a dream come true, and the raw emotion at the finish line in Verona showed that. I will treasure that memory for the rest of my life.
"I came into the race in good condition, with fast legs and focus on the flat sprints, but have been struggling on the climbs which has really taken its toll. So, we decided it would be best for me to stop, and to recover, to look forward to the future."
Nizzolo's win, his second of 2021 after the Clásica de Almería, was the second triumph for Qhubeka Assos at what has been a successful Giro for the South African squad. The team also tasted success on the sterrato stage to Montalcino last week, with neo-pro Mauro Schmid winning from the breakaway ahead of Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates).
"For our team this has been an incredible Giro d’Italia so far," Nizzolo said. "We speak about the spirit of Ubuntu within our squad – 'I am because we are' – and I think it’s evident for everyone to see in the way we are racing just how tight we are as a group and organisation.
"My win in Verona wasn’t just a victory for me and those behind the scenes but as importantly it continued to showcase our team’s purpose in riding for something more, for the impact that bicycles can have in changing lives which we are doing everyday together with the Qhubeka Charity."
The Giro d'Italia continues on Sunday with the final chance for sprinters to possibly make their mark, a hilly circuit race around Gorizia. Stage 10 winner Sagan wears the maglia ciclamino as points classification leader, his advantage now up to 22 points over Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) after Nizzolo's withdrawal.
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