Matteo Jorgenson: I just ran out of talent trying to follow Mathieu van der Poel at the Tour of Flanders

American gives his all but comes up short against the world champion in a gruelling edition of the race

Clock18:40, Sunday 31st March 2024
Matteo Jorgenson was one of just three riders who were able to ride the full length of a rain-soaked Koppenberg

© Getty Images

Matteo Jorgenson was one of just three riders who were able to ride the full length of a rain-soaked Koppenberg

Visma-Lease a Bike came up short in their quest to win the Tour of Flanders but it wasn’t for a lack of effort with the Dutch team putting in a thorough effort during one of the most arduous and draining editions of the men’s race in recent years.

The fact that their top finisher, Tiesj Benoot, only managed to scrape home in 15th place on a soaking day in Oudenaarde told only one side of the story with several riders attempting to split the race and put eventual winner Mathieu van der Poel under pressure. Benoot may have been the first rider onto the team bus but Matteo Jorgenson was arguably the team’s strongest rider.

The American, and recent winner of Dwars door Vlaanderen, was the only rider to crest the Koppenberg within 30 seconds of Van der Poel when the world champion made his wining move with 45km to go. The pair were stuck less than ten seconds apart on the following descent but as groups reformed behind the Dutch rider, Jorgenson found himself on the back foot and eventually finished 31st, over three minutes down.

Read more: Tour of Flanders – Mathieu van der Poel claims record third title with 45km solo

“Today he was the best rider. That was clear. We had a plan to use our numbers but it didn’t go to plan. We didn’t make it at the front in the right moment and that’s something to reflect on. In the end, we still had a really good fight and I’m proud of how we fought. We tried to use our team and just chapeau to Alpecin, they also rode a clear and really perfect race. This was impressive to watch,” Jorgenson said at the finish as he talked to GCN.

The 24-year-old came into the Tour of Flanders as a legitimate contender, and Visma’s best hopes of winning the race after his mid-week win and the news that Wout Van Aert would miss a portion of the season after crashing out of the same race. 

“I went all in to win the race. I’m proud of how we rode. The race didn’t go according to our plan and we didn’t make it in front we made some mistakes and we didn’t make it in front at the time we wanted to we didn’t split the race. It was a bit chaotic,” he said.

Read more: Resilience, patience and power take Mathieu van der Poel to Tour of Flanders greatness

Those mistakes weren’t quite evident in the immediate aftermath of the race, but it was certainly true that Visma, like most of Van der Poel’s rivals, failed to put the Dutch rider under concerted pressure at various points in the race. That was mainly down to Van der Poel’s excellent Alpecin-Deceuninck team. They marked several riders out of the race and were on the case when Benoot and Dylan Van Baarle launched a two-pronged attack as part of a small group.

“We weren’t really successful in getting ahead of Mathieu over the second time of the Kwaremont, which was a big goal and basically Alpecin was able to pull Dylan and Tiesj back, which was unfortunate for us but impressive for them.”

On the Koppenberg, when Van der Poel made his winning move, only Jorgenson was able to even attempt at matching the world champion. Most riders either lost traction or were forced to walk up the rain-soaked cobbles but Jorgenson kept the eventual winner in check for as long as possible. His assessment of his own performance at the finish was somewhat harsh but in time he might see that this has been a landmark spring in his career, with an overall title in Paris-Nice and a semi-classic to his name.

“Then I knew that I had to follow Mathieu on the Kwaremont and I did my absolute best but I just ran out of talent. The lights went out.”

Next up for Jorgenson is Paris-Roubaix. No doubt those lights will be on once again by the time the next Monument rolls around.

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