Cycling-Australian Ewan quits 'Giro from hell' race ahead of stage 12

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - Giro d'Italia - Stage 2 - Budapest to Budapest Tissot, Hungary - May 7, 2022 Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan in action during stage 2 REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

(Reuters) - Australia's Caleb Ewan will head home early from the Giro d'Italia after a difficult campaign to begin preparations for the Tour de France, his team Lotto Soudal said on Thursday.

The 27-year-old sprinter got off to a horror start after crashing in the final moments of the opening stage before finishing last in Tuesday's stage 10, more than half an hour behind winner Biniam Girmay.

"The Giro from hell continued for me today. Got dropped around 80km to go alone and just made it within the time limit," Ewan, who has won five individual stages at the Giro, wrote on Instagram.

"Since my crash on the first stage I feel like my Giro just keeps going downhill."

He could only manage fifth place in stage 11 on Wednesday as Italian Alberto Dainese took the win.

"With plenty of mountain stages coming up, together with the team it was decided that Ewan will be heading home," Lotto Soudal said in a statement.

"Following a short period of rest, the sprinter will build up towards his next big goal of the season, the Tour de France, where he will also be targeting victories in the sprint stages."

Thursday's stage 12 is a challenging 204 k.m. (127 mile) ride from Parma to Genoa, which features numerous climbs and a long and technical descent.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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