Sprint stars Caleb Ewan and Elia Vivani are expected to leave the Giro d’Italia after stage 11 as the sprint opportunities run thin.
The pair still have chances to fight for stage victory over the next two days, before the race heads into the mountains and the focus switches to the general classification battle.
Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) are both set to ride the Tour de France, so will put out of the Italian Grand Tour early to focus on their goals for the summer, Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports.
Australian Ewan has since confirmed to Cycling Weekly he will be leaving the race.
Viviani will be desperate for a win over the next two days, as he looks for glory on home soil during his spell as the Italian national champion.
The 30-year-old was embroiled in a controversy on stage three of this Giro d’Italia, when he crossed the line first but was then stripped of the win for dangerous sprinting after he cut across Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo), the stage honours being handed to Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).
Viviani’s confidence appears to have been shaken by that moment, as he struggled to follow Gaviria’s wheel in the final metres of stage five, which was won by breakthrough German sprinter Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The Italian national champion was back in the fight on stage eight, but couldn’t match the kick of Ewan who took the win.
Ewan’s lead-out rider Jasper De Buyst is also expected to pull out of the Giro, but hopes to make it to the second rest day.
Ackermann and French rival Arnaud Démare (Groupama_FDJ) are likely to battle to the finish in Verona, as Ackermann leads the points classification with Démare trailing by 52 points.
Stage 10 is a pan-flat 145km stage from Ravenna to Modena not far from the start city of Bologna, while stage 11 is a longer 221km run from Carpi to Novi Ligure in the north west of Italy, which culminates in a gentle unclassified rise to the line.
The final sprint opportunity of the 2019 Giro comes on stage 18, with a 222km mostly downhill route from Valdaora to Santa Maria di Sala.