22-year-old Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar Team) is quietly riding himself into the upper echelon of professional cycling. The young American is already into his third year of WorldTour racing, and finished 4th overall at the Tour de la Provence, including three consecutive top-10 stage results that netted him an unofficial ‘most consistent rider’ award.
I’ve followed Jorgenson’s training and racing results since 2018 when he rode for the defunct Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis squad, and his progression is unsurprising. The Boise-native was putting up WorldTour numbers in one-off efforts, showing that he was only a few years away from potentially joining the professional ranks.
Fast forward to 2021 and Jorgenson experienced his breakout year, finishing eighth overall at Paris-Nice, riding the Giro d’Italia, and earning podium finishes at the Tour de Pologne and Tour of Britain. Jorgenson is an all-rounder, capable in time trials, sprints, and summit finishes, making his well-rounded abilities somewhat rare in the specialized, modern peloton.
After a solid start to the season in Mallorca, Jorgenson lined up for the prologue of the Tour de la Provence, a four-day stage race featuring a short time trial, crosswinds, an uphill sprint finish, and a final-day summit finish atop the Montagne de Lure.
The 2022 Tour de la Provence began with a lightning-fast Prologue around Berre-l’Étang. The 7.1km course was pancake flat and included very few corners, which meant that the time trialing speeds would be as high as ever. There was no surprise when Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) took the win at an average speed of 52.8kph (32.8mph), and the world champion enjoyed a healthy margin of victory over his teammate, Ethan Hayter.
In third place was Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ), who averaged 485w (6.5w/kg) for over eight minutes, and still finished 13 seconds down on Ganna. Jorgenson had his worst result of this race by finishing 16th on this prologue, but was only 11 seconds off the podium and ahead of GC contenders like winner Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ), and Iván Sosa (Movistar Team).
With only three stages remaining, it was a solid start to Provence for the 22-year-old American.
Jorgenson – Prologue:
Average Power: 480w (6.9w/kg)
Normalized Power: 499w (7.1w/kg)
Next up was a flat stage from Istres to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, but this would not be an ordinary sprint stage. The 40+ kph (25+ mph) crosswinds ripped the peloton to shreds, mostly due to the pressure exerted by Ineos Grenadiers and Filippo Ganna. Fewer than 30 riders made the front split, which occurred less than halfway through the 151km stage.
Jorgenson was leading the front echelon when a crash occurred at 82km to go, which only extended the gaps between the quickly-forming groups. This 20-minute section was Jorgenson’s biggest power effort during the stage, looking more like a category 1 climb than a flat section of seaside highway.
Jorgenson – Stage 1 crosswinds:
Average Power: 369w (5.3w/kg)
Normalized Power: 385w (5.5w/kg)
Peak 10-min Normalized Power: 428w (6.1w/kg)
To demonstrate just how powerful the crosswinds were, let’s take a look at the fastest section of the race by Filippo Ganna. With the splits established, Ganna helped drive the front group away from the others at an average speed of almost 60kph.
Ganna averaged 410w (4.7w/kg) for an hour during the hardest portion of the stage, powering along the flats with Luke Rowe and Elia Viviani (both Ineos Grenadiers) in tow. In an interview before the stage, the Italian joked that he weighs 88kg right now. But even then, 400w for an hour is a sight to behold.
Ganna – Fastest section of stage 1 crosswinds:
Average Speed: 57.8kph (35.9mph)
Average Power: 394w (4.6w/kg)
You may have seen the side profile shot of Ganna dropping the remaining peloton off his wheel with 4km to go, and you may have wondered how many watts he was doing. The answer – somewhere around 550w for five minutes. The Italian had to coast a few times to allow his teammates to catch up, but that didn’t stop him from mowing down all of the finale breakaway attempts and setting up the stage win for his fellow countryman, Elia Viviani. Jorgenson finished 9th on the stage.
Ganna – Stage 1 final 6km:
Average Speed: 60.5kph (37.6mph)
Average Power: 499w (5.8w/kg)
There were two main talking points from Stage 2 which finished in Manosque: Cofidis dropping the sprinters on the Col de l’Aire dei Masco, and Bryan Coquard beating World Champion Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) and Ganna in an uphill sprint.
With 35km to go, Cofidis launched off the front of the peloton on the Col de l’Aire dei Masco, a 6.6km climb with an average of 4.8 percent. Despite the shallow gradients, the pace was hot enough to drop the pure sprinters including the previous day’s winner in Viviani. Cofidis dropped more than half the peloton, and we can see from Jorgenson’s power data exactly how hard the climb was.
Jorgenson – Col de l’Aire dei Masco:
Average Power: 410w (5.9w/kg)
Normalized Power: 427w (6.1w/kg)
Peak 10-min Power: 442w (6.3w/kg)
If you’ve ever wondered how strong WorldTour racers are, these riders can do 6w/kg for 20 minutes, and close to 6.5w/kg for 10 minutes.
And that’s not all – the final kilometer averaged just under 4 percent, so it was a chaotic uphill sprint with climbers, time trialists, and world champions all duking it out in the final few hundred meters. Coquard took his second win of the season, while Alaphilippe finished second, and Ganna finished third after producing 1,122w (13.2w/kg) for 22 seconds. Jorgenson finished 8th on the stage, with a finishing kick of nearly 600w for over a minute and a half.
Jorgenson – stage 2 finale:
Average Power: 595w (8.5w/kg)
Peak 20-sec Power: 894w (12.8w/kg)
The final stage of the 2022 Tour de la Provence featured a summit finish atop Montagne de Lure, a 13.4km climb with an average gradient of 6.5 percent. Crucially, the final climb ramped steeper and steeper all the way to the finish, with the final 4km averaging close to 8 percent. Surely one of the climbers would make that their launchpad for the win.
Nairo Quintana was the overwhelming favorite for the stage, and many were wondering if we would see another ‘thermonuclear’ performance like the Colombian’s record-setting ride to Chalet Reynard in 2020. We’ll get to those numbers in a minute, but first, let’s take a look at how the stage played out.
Spoiler alert: nothing happened.
Until 20km to go, the only action of note was Ganna’s bike change for which he would later be disqualified because it didn’t come from the team car at the back of the race. As the peloton hit the base of the final climb, Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) set the pace, presumably for Michael Storer who would go on to finish 14th on the stage.
Before we get into the real action, let’s make sure we know which riders we’re talking about. Danish rider Mathias Norsgaard Jørgensen (Movistar Team) – not to be confused with American rider Matteo Jorgenson, and not to be confused with Danish rider Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo) – led Matteo Jorgenson into the bottom of Montagne de Lure in prime position.
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl took over pacing with 6km to go, while Quintana and Jorgenson waited patiently. With 4.5km to go, Arkéa-Samsic set up the inevitable attack from Quintana, and the only rider able to bridge across was Julian Alaphilippe. The world champion clearly went over his limit as Quintana went clear 600 meters later.
Jorgenson followed 30 seconds in arrears, glued to the wheel of Skjelmose who was one place ahead of the American on GC. Quintana dominated the Montagne de Lure, finishing 37 seconds ahead of Jensen and Jorgenson who surged away from their chase group in the final 200 meters.
On the Montagne de Lure, we can see the classic pacing strategy for WorldTour summit finishes. The pace started hot – around 6w/kg – and then it only heated up until there was only one rider left. Jorgenson’s pace of 6w/kg was a strong one, but when Quintana picked it up to ~6.7w/kg for the final 10 minutes, the American could not answer.
Jorgenson – Stage 3 finale:
Average Power: 379w (5.4w/kg)
Normalized Power: 396w (5.7w/kg)
Montagne de Lure: 413w (5.9w/kg) for 37 minutes
First 11km: 400w (5.7w/kg) for 26 minutes
After Quintana’s attack: 441w (6.3w/kg) for 12 minutes
In Jorgenson’s power data, we can see that WorldTour cycling is not only about the final climb. The lead-in is also incredibly hard, and that doesn’t even include the mental stress and bumping of elbows that it takes to get into position at 55kph.
With brilliant awareness, tactical prowess, and commitment to his pacing strategy, Jorgenson had enough left in the tank to sprint to third on the stage, his best finish of the race, and his first podium result this season. Based on the 22-year-old strength and consistency across all four stages – including a short prologue TT, heavy crosswinds, an uphill sprint, and a mountaintop finish – the American could be on track for some major results in 2022.
In case you’re wondering what it took for Filippo Ganna to finish 12th on the stage — he was disqualified after the stage finished — here’s a look at his one hour power, at the end of the fourth stage of the Tour de la Provence in February, by the way. With fresh legs and ideal conditions, can the Italian do 500w for an hour to break the UCI Hour Record? Only time will tell.
Ganna – Stage 3 finale:
Average Power: 450w (5.1w/kg)
Montagne de Lure: 468w (5.3w/kg) for 38 minutes