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Matteo Jorgenson on cusp of Tour de France debut

The 22-year-old hopes a strong showing at the Critérium du Dauphiné secures him a spot on Movistar's 'Tour Eight.'

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LA VOULTE-SUR-RHONE, France (VN) — Matteo Jorgenson could make his Tour de France debut next month thanks in part to a leg injury that scrambled his 2022 racing calendar.

The 22-year-old American is on Movistar‘s short list to race the Tour next month, and if he makes it safely through the eight-stage Critérium du Dauphiné this week, things are looking up.

“Nothing is confirmed until after the Dauphiné,” Jorgenson said Sunday. “I feel confident I will be there and I’ve been given all the indications, but you really never know until they finalize the team.”

Now in his third season at the Spanish WorldTour team, Jorgenson was originally penciled in to race the Giro d’Italia this spring.

A muscle injury on his thigh during Paris-Nice, however, threw a wrench into his racing calendar. After what was expected to be a short time off the bike turned into a full month’s stop, the door to the Tour unexpectedly swung open.

“It was right after Paris-Nice that we first started talking about the Tour,” he said. “I was supposed to do the Giro, but I had a bad injury, and as soon as we knew it was going to be three weeks off the bike, they said the Giro is definitely off the table, so it opened up a good opportunity to build for the Tour.

“I tore my hamstring right behind the knee,” he said of his Paris-Nice injury. “It was a small injury when I crashed in the crosswinds in stage 3, but I kept racing through it because I was on a good GC and I was in the white jersey.

“Unfortunately, it became worse and it was a very serious tear,” he said. “In the end, it was a mistake, but when you’re in the race, you want to keep going.”

After a resting period, Jorgenson is now back at full strength, and showed off his form last week at the Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes with seventh.

Jorgenson said there are nine riders vying for eight starters to go to the Tour, so his chances are pretty good  for the Tour nod.

The official final Tour selection won’t come until after the Dauphiné, but Jorgenson rolled into Sunday’s opened stage quietly optimistic.

“There are nine of us on the Tour list,” he said. “Eight go, so I hope to make it, but we’ll know for sure after the Dauphiné. I’m excited for it. It would be the highlight of my life so far.”

This week, Jorgenson races the Dauphiné for the first time. The race is a longtime reference to the Tour, and many of the yellow jersey favorites are racing this week.

“This Dauphiné is an important stepping stone for me personally, and it will be a good week to see where I am at now and going into the Tour,” Jorgenson said at the start line. “This race is really important for the whole team. We have a good leader in Enric, and we hope to show what he’s capable of.”

Jorgenson is crystal clear what his role will be during this week’s Dauphiné and at the Tour if makes the final eight-rider roster.

This week and next month, Movistar “blues” are going to rally around Enric Mas and a bid for the final podium at the Dauphiné as well as in Paris on July 24 when the Tour ends.

“My job is to keep him out of the wind, and to try to get as far as I can in the mountains on the weekend,” he said. “I need to stay close to Enric and being to show that I am climbing well to show that I have a good level.”

If selected for the Tour, the race would mark another step in the quick progression for Jorgenson.

He joined Movistar in 2020, barely out of his teens, and was quick to impress in his neo-pro season even if it was marked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, he rode into the top-10 at Paris-Nice and completed his grand tour debut at the 2021 Giro.

Everything is building toward to the Tour. Jorgenson just hopes he makes the final cut.

“It would be super, super special to race the Tour,” he said. “Just the thought of being able to say I am going to race the Tour is pretty exciting. As an American, it’s the only race that Americans really even know about. It would be pretty cool. It’s pretty exciting.”