The long, lean frame and fair skin of Matteo Jorgenson looks like an anomaly among the Mediterranean complexions of the Movistar lineup. But with his three-year contract and a top-10 finish at Paris-Nice last week, the 21-year-old has positioned himself right at the center of a brave regeneration at the Spanish outfit.
Jorgenson punched home in eighth place on the final stage of Paris-Nice this weekend, securing eighth overall as the youngest in the field in what was his very first foray into team leadership.
Also read: The classics can wait for Matteo Jorgenson
“I’m happy with eighth and happy for a GC result, super proud of it. I think it was a good test of what I can do on GC,” Jorgenson said after Paris-Nice. “I wanted to make sure that I made the most of every single day, and I think every day I showed the consistency to do it.”
With Movistar facing a leadership vacuum after the exit of marquee riders Richard Carapaz, Mikel Landa, and Nairo Quintana at the end of 2019, Jorgenson is one of a whole new generation at the long-running squad.
Rather than blowing the budget on one stellar centerpoint, the team opted to play the long game, bringing in a swathe of young riders including budding grand tour talents Enric Mas (26) and Miguel Ángel López (27), along with a whole kindergarten of even fresher-faced WorldTour rookies for the future.
Also read: Movistar continues to bet on youth
It’s a long-term project, and Jorgenson is right at the center of it with a contract through 2023.
“Last year and 2020 Movistar made a huge signing of super-young riders – there’s even a younger generation at Movistar than López, [Marc] Soler and Enric [Mas] – and I think some of us guys are starting to blossom,” Jorgenson told VeloNews last week. “Last year was tough because we did lose a lot of marquee riders but if you look at the composition of the team now, there’s a lot of potential for the future. We might lack something in the current moment but a lot of it’s an investment for down the road.”
A rapid return on investment
Jorgenson is more than just future potential, however.
Having shone in the classics last season and shown hints at GC greatness with 14th at Tour de la Provence and last week’s success in France, the Idahoan could help Movistar reverse its dire 2020 season sooner than management expects.
Although the 21-year-old may not transform into an overnight grand tour sensation in the way that Tadej Pogačar did, Jorgenson boasts similar do-it-all abilities to the Slovenian and the same brimming potential. Not an all-out climber, rouleur, or time trial specialist yet more-than proficient across all terrain, the 21-year-old can do a bit of everything, and do it all very well.
“I think I’m kind of in the middle between a climber and a classics rider so it’s not a bad place to be,” he said. “That offers quite a few possibilities and a bit of versatility so I think we’ll just explore where I excel.”
Team management invested confidence in its first American recruit since Andy Hampsten early on by handing him the key to GC leadership at Paris-Nice, and he repaid the faith by delivering early results.
But if stage racing doesn’t work out for Jorgenson this season, there’s still plenty of room for him to thrive at Movistar. Promising classics rider Iván García Cortina joined “The Blues” in 2021 as part of a renewed push for one-day success, and Jorgenson’s standout debut classics campaign last summer marks him as a potential future ally for his new teammate.
If Eusebio Unzué was looking for fresh young potential and vigor in his team, he’s found it in Jorgenson. And better still, the Idahoan isn’t planning on going anywhere soon.
“I feel really settled here,” he said. “It was a weird move from a lot of people’s point of view, but I think for me it felt quite comfortable, and Spanish culture is very open and inviting and the team’s been super good with me.
“Obviously, it’s Spanish speaking and the staff is all Spanish and most of the riders are too, so it takes effort to have to learn Spanish – but it’s a good challenge for me. I can converse and understand everything on the radio and the meetings, and that’s the most important thing so for me, I think I’m quite settled, I really enjoy it here.”
He’s got the legs, he’s almost got the lingo, and he’s got three more years to improve them both. Meet Movistar’s new American hermano.