First Paris-Nice, now Dwars for Matteo Jorgenson

Stage races and now semi-classics, Jorgensen has cemented himself as one of the sport's most versatile riders.

A consolation, or a silver lining perhaps. Or simply seizing opportunity when it presents itself. This was not the way Matteo Jorgenson wanted to suddenly gain Visma-Lease a Bike leadership but the American made the most of it, taking his first major one-day victory at Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

In doing so, Jorgenson became the first American to win Dwars and cemented himself in a short list of modern, hyper-versatile riders, capable of winning the likes of Paris-Nice and a semi-classic just weeks apart. He countered a move from teammate Teisj Benoot and held off a small group containing Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Dries De Bont (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale), Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility), Benoot, and a persistently dangling Josh Tarling (Ineos Grenadiers).

“It’s unbelievable, it really is, this whole season has been a dream so far,” Jorgenson said. “It’s surreal actually.”

The cloud overhead was the abandonment and unknown injury list of teammate Wout van Aert, taken down in a large high-speed crash that also claimed Lidl-Trek teammates Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen. Following the crash that took out Van Aert, with roughly 68 km to go, Visma played a classic team tactic, attacking and counter-attacking until Jorgenson was finally able to break clear.

“As a team, our whole strategy is based around having numbers in the finale,” Jorgenson explained. “There was a moment there in the last cobble sections where Küng was going in the gutter, Tiesj was a little bit gapped, and thankfully I waited for him because without him I wouldn’t have won this race.”

Jorgenson witnessed the crash up close, sitting on Van Aert’s wheel as two dueling leadouts, from Visma and Trek, intersected with disastrous consequences for both.

“I was on Wout’s wheel at the time, just for the Kenarieberg, ” Jorgenson said. “It was just a racing incident, we had two leadout trains, Trek and us, we came together and I think Wout and Alex Kirsch came together, and it was a really ugly fall. I knew Wout would be out of the race at that point.

Teisj and I continued with the plan because there’s still a bike race, but my thoughts are with Wout and the rest of the guys involved.”

Benoot and Jorgenson counter attacked each others’ moves until Jorgenson broke clear.

Van Aert is currently in a nearby hospital and his condition has not been released as of publishing. His participation in this weekend’s Tour of Flanders therefore remains unknown. Prior to Dwars, Visma was already racing with a heavily reduced classics squad after losing Christophe Laporte to illness and Jan Tratnik to injury.

Should Van Aert pull out of Flanders, the team will need to coalesce around either Benoot or Jorgenson. “I hope that’s not the case,” Jorgenson said when asked about potential leadership at the biggest race in Flanders. “I hope everyone is good, I will assess that later. “

Jorgenson is the likely answer, based on current form. It would be a striking rise for him, just months after moving from Movistar and with a program that has placed equal weight on both classics and stage races. He earned leadership at Paris-Nice and rewarded his team with a victory, but has generally played a foil in the one-days, a Stijn Devolder to Van Aert’s Tom Boonen, if you will. He believes he can excel at both types of racing, he told Escape Collective in February, but leadership in the biggest one-day of them all will put that to a true test.

Continuing on the theme of silver linings, Wednesday’s semi-classic victory seals Jorgenson’s ticket to the Paris Olympics, a major goal for him this season. “After Paris-Nice, I refocused a bit because I still didn’t have an auto qualification for the Olympics, that was a big goal for me going to the Olympics, and now I have that in the pocket,” he said. “It’s been an insane season.”

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