Matteo Jorgenson and his close calls at the Tour de France: ‘Fueling the fire for more’

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Matteo Jorgenson wasn’t even supposed to race in the Tour de France, but he didn’t hesitate when fate opened the door for him to make his Tour debut in 2022.

The ever-evolving 23-year-old dived right into the middle of the stage, breaking into a three-win split with Team Movistar to confirm his place among the WorldTour’s elite.

“I had to do the Giro. They weren’t thinking of me for the tour, but I had a bad injury at Paris-Nice,” said Jorgenson. VeloNews. “It turned out to be a blessing and still took some time off that I needed.”

A muscle tear in his knee forced him to be off the bike for three weeks; that was eternity for a mid-season WorldTour pro.

He spent weeks at high altitude in a hotel in Andorra just below 2,400 meters (about 8,000 feet). The coaches saw the practice numbers and punched the Tour ticket.

“I can lead the Tour clearly and perfectly,” Jorgenson said. “Before Dauphiné I was only able to train for two months, it was a super-focused training block at altitude until the Lap, which was pretty important.

“For years to come, if I’m going to the Tour, I’d like to imitate it, do Paris-Nice and the classics and just stop and focus on the Tour,” he said. “I am still learning how my body responds to these efforts.”

Jorgenson set out with the goal of helping Enric Mas reach the final podium, but Movistar officials gave him and others the green light to chase breakups in week two of the Tour.

Jorgenson didn’t hesitate and went into a three-win split on stages 10, 13 and 16. Twice placing fourth and once fifth, the results were both encouraging and frustrating at the same time.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting it, but I knew I was in pretty good shape, I was doing some really good numbers in practice because of the break,” he said. “I felt fit, I was pretty sure I was going to have a good Lap, but I had no idea how to stack.

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“I surprised myself with these breakups,” he said. “I had no intention of trying anything personally, I was there to help Enric. We had one goal with him, so it was amazing and good to see where I could be.”

in an exclusive interview with VeloNewsJorgenson explains the details and dynamics of each breakup:

Stage 10, Morzine to Megève: ‘Every day was a fight for breaks’

Jorgenson crosses the line in fourth on his first big escape. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Mas was doing well, but it soon became clear that he would not be fighting on the podium against players like Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard.

Heading into week two, sporting directors gave support drivers a clear path to chase separations. Jorgenson knew this was his chance.

“By then we were in a situation where Enric was losing some time and we had a better idea of ​​his potential for him, the team was allowing me and a few others to take a break,” said Jorgenson.

“I went for a break that day, I felt so good that morning,” he said. “At the beginning of the day, I was in every action. In the end, I was in good shape and finally had legs to do pretty well.

Attacks were quick and heavy at the 10km closing as it was clear the break was fighting for the loot. Citizen Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) was also on the move, and Jorgenson was swell and guarded.

Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) played smart and saved everything for the final surge in the line to nip Nick Schultz (BikeExchange-Jayco) for the win. Luis León Sánchez (Bahrain Victorious) finished third and Jorgenson finished fourth, 8 seconds behind.

“I wasn’t playing smart, I was just following every move,” he said. “It was ridiculous that it was such a big fight, I tried for a few days and missed the move because I was too tired to try for so long. The ride was not easy, it was a real struggle every day.”

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Stage 13, Bourg d’Oisans to Saint-Etienne: ‘I was just wrong that day’

Jorgenson sets the pace on the road to Saint-Etienne. (Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Jorgenson got drenched in blood after tasting a Tour breakout and worked his way up to his second successful attack on the Saint-Etienne road.

He quickly learns the racing ropes to find and ride winning escapes in the Tour de France.

“You look at the route to see if there are places where it would be picky,” Jorgenson said. “Towns are good places and there are queues, so if you’re behind you don’t stand a chance.

“He got to a point where not everyone could go with him that day, and he went on one of the climbs,” he said. “Following Ganna, I was the last to hold the helm. There wasn’t much brain to take breaks. No one was outsmarting anyone. It was really about who had legs.

On the way to Saint-Etienne, Jorgenson admits that he misunderstood his rivals during the breakup. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) picked up the flowers while Filippo was marking the wheels of Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ).

Another lesson learned.

“I used to point out guys who weren’t going to be contenders, and I was wrong that day,” he said.

Stage 16, Carcassone to Foix: ‘Flash the fire for victory’

Fourth place at Foix was a bitter disappointment on a day when Jorgenson said he had legs to win. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Jorgenson was not done yet and there was more gas in the tank.

Everyone was on their knees as the race bent towards the Pyrénées. Jorgenson entered the big move of the day early, with two first category climbs in a row in the back half of the stage.

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While he has some strength, Jorgenson can climb with the best of his day. Unfortunately, he found friends with two riders from Israel-Premier Tech, Michael Woods and Hugo Houle, who finished third behind St-Etienne ahead of Jorgenson.

“Reading the race is always really complicated. The only way to do that is to line up the guys you think are the strongest at halftime, but you don’t know where everyone is.” “Men are different levels of fatigue.

“I need to be more in these kinds of situations,” he said. “On the last day of the break in the Pyrénées, I let Hugo Houle go. I actually didn’t even see him go, I was picking up bottles in the cars and he was dropped before and attacked from between the cars. I didn’t even know he was there until halfway through the climb.”

Jorgenson said he isn’t all that precise and dry when it comes to race radio and what information is immediately available to drivers on the road.

He told Foix that day that his race radio wasn’t working properly due to coverage cuts and time rifts on the route. commissioners was not entirely correct.

“When I found out he had two minutes left of us,” he said. “It was too late, I couldn’t pull it back. It was 25 seconds at the top and I took a risk on the descents and fell.

“Woods was there and wasn’t going to help,” Jorgenson said. “Even if I caught Hugo, Woods was there, then it was a situation where I had two teammates.”

It was another close quarters, another fourth place. Three breakups, three top 5.

“I was pretty upset,” Jorgenson said. “I felt like I had the legs to do better on at least two of those days I was in the group. I’ve had worse legs than the winning guys. It was situational. Looking back now, it’s hard to be disappointed because I showed so much. This was my first Tour so I’m happy with how it went.

“I’ll only get positive out of that,” he said. “I have many more years to improve. All it does is fuel the fire for victory.”

Three major breakout efforts confirmed a great Tour start for Jorgenson. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

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