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Matteo Jorgenson could be America’s next great classics star. Only he’s not racing any major one-day races this year.
Jorgenson rode to 17th place in last summer’s Milano-Sanremo in what was just his 11th ride in the WorldTour. The 21-year-old scored top finishes in the 2020 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and La Flèche Wallonne, and only Sunday, finished shoulder to shoulder with top rouleurs Matteo Trentin, John Degenkolb and Michael Matthews at Paris-Nice.
But the young American isn’t racing any major classics with his Movistar team this year. What gives?
The grand tours are calling.
“Management is wanting to test my capabilities on climbs and stage racing so this spring,” Jorgenson told Velonews. “The point is to get me in some big stage races and a grand tour and see how far my body can go in a multi-day race and test that aspect out.”
Jorgenson rolls out for stage 3 of the marquee stage race Paris-Nice on Tuesday, one of a series of stepping stones on his way to a grand tour debut at the Giro d’Italia this May.
The Boise native is riding in a “free role” in France this week in what is a testament to Movistar’s confidence in his potential.
“I did quite a few big one days and monuments last year and the team tested me in those races and they were pleasantly surprised with how well I did,” Jorgenson said in a telephone interview ahead of Paris-Nice. “But I think stage racing is something totally different and requires a totally different skill set. So, this spring they want to see how I go in those major races.”
All 190cm and 70kg of Jorgenson finished 12th on the Ventoux summit finish in Tour de la Provence last month, not far behind established climbers such as Bauke Mollema and Aleksandr Vlasov. The Team JellyBelly graduate can climb with the best, and loves riding in the roughest of conditions. The Giro is well within his reach, and he knows it.
“I feel like I’m ready for a grand tour and I think it does a lot in terms of the development of a rider, so I’m really looking forward to starting it,” he said. “It’ll be a great experience.”
With a three-year deal at Movistar in his pocket and a wide-ranging skillset to play with, Jorgenson has both time and a nurturing team on his side as he continues to explore his potential.
“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. The only way to see my direction is to test it all out and see what I come out of the best.”
And if stage racing doesn’t work out?
The monuments have been around for over one hundred years, so they’ll be around for a little longer yet.
“The team is allowing me some freedom in another aspect [from the classics] and now I’m super-happy to do that,” Jorgenson said. “I can always come back to classics, there’s a lot of time to go in my career.”