"It is a shame I have to leave the Giro. But I believe it’s the most sensible choice right now," Merlier said.
"This was the first time in my career that I raced for 10 consecutive days, and the past few days have taken their toll. With my current physical readiness, I don’t feel able to sprint for the win and I don’t want to compromise the rest of my season."
Merlier won the first sprint stage in Novara, finished third in Termoli, and also wore the cyclamen points jersey. However, he was distanced on the final climb during Monday’s hilly stage to Foligno when Peter Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team took control of the racing.
The Giro d’Italia was Merlier’s first Grand Tour but he is expected to ride the Tour de France alongside team leader Mathieu van der Poel.
"I’m proud and honored that I could make my Grand Tour debut here," Merlier said.
"This Giro d'Italia has been an unforgettable adventure for myself and for Alpecin-Fenix. We came here aiming for a stage victory. I’m therefore very pleased that we were able to achieve that goal and that we continued to battle for stage wins afterwards.
"It was a great honour and a great motivation to be able to wear the iconic Maglia Ciclamino for five days. I will support the boys from home now in the next 11 days."
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