Dwars door Vlaanderen: Matteo Jorgenson victorious with late solo attack

American wins ahead of Jonas Abrahamsen and Stefan Küng, as Visma-Lease a Bike seek solace after Wout Van Aert crashes out

Clock15:52, Wednesday 27th March 2024
Matteo Jorgenson's delight was evident at his first one-day victory

© Getty Images

Matteo Jorgenson's delight was evident at his first one-day victory

Matteo Jorgenson (Visma-Lease a Bike) claimed his first one-day victory at Dwars door Vlaanderen, soloing clear from a six-man group 7km from the end of a chaotic mid-week Classic.

The US rider, who won Paris-Nice earlier this month and was fifth in the E3 Classic, will now be seen as one of the leading favourites for the Tour of Flanders, not least because Visma-Lease a Bike’s team leader, Wout van Aert, dramatically crashed and left the race in an ambulance.

Read more: Wout van Aert crashes out of Dwars door Vlaanderen

The crash in question also took out Gent-Wevelgem winner Mads Pedersen, his Lidl-Trek teammate Jasper Stuyven, and Intermarché-Wanty’s Biniam Girmay, among others. It could have major implications for Flanders on Sunday, and it had major implications for Dwars door Vlaanderen itself.

Soon after, with the bunch - which had already been heavily reduced - still reeling, Jorgenson was part of a small group that clipped away on the Kanarieberg with 65km remaining. He had teammate Tiesj Benoot for company, and they combined to use their numerical advantage over the rest of the group, which contained some big names and also some intrepid survivors from the day’s breakaway.

The pair launched repeat accelerations and the sucker punch came with 7km to go when Benoot’s latest acceleration was shut down and Jorgenson immediately shot out the front. This time the rest of them looked around at each other, and the damage was done.

Jorgenson soloed home, as Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X) - one of those breakaway riders - led the chasers home for second place half a minute later, with Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) rounding out the podium. Benoot was fourth, ahead of another breakaway man Dries De Bondt (Decathlon AG2R), while Josh Tarling (Ineos Grenadiers), who produced an entertaining display of bridging to the select group and then yo-yo-ing off the back of it for two hours, trailed home in sixth place.

Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek) led home the next small group some 1:47 down, having attacked the main group that was left on the back foot in the confusion between the crash and Kanarieberg, and never recovered.

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

“I was in Wout’s wheel just before the Kanarieberg, and it was just a racing incident,” he added of the crash. There were two trains, Trek and us, and we came together. It was a really ugly fall. I saw the whole thing and knew Wout would be out of the race.

“Tiesj and I continued with the place, because it’s still a bike race, but my thoughts are with Wout and the other riders involved.”

The crash shapes the race

The riders set out from Roeselare for the mid-week pre-Flanders Classic, and there was plenty of wind in the air, but the first couple of hours unfolded traditionally, with a breakaway of 11 riders, among them Abrahamsen and De Bondt.

Lidl-Trek, Visma-Lease a Bike, Bora-Hansgrohe, and Groupama-FDJ were the leading forces in the peloton, and things started to heat up inside the 100km to go mark, with FDJ drilling it en route to the Kortekeer, only for their co-leader Laurence Pithie to suffer an untimely puncture. The first real movement came on Berg Ten Houte with 75km to go, as Ineos’ Magnus Sheffield drew out some big names and the bunch then split over the top.

The peloton was first cut to 50 and soon 30 as it split in the wind on the exposed roads. That group of 30 was barrelling along to the foot of the Kanarieberg, on a wide main road, when the fateful crash occurred with 67km to go. Jorgenson said that Van Aert came together with Lidl-Trek’s Alex Kirsch, while Benoot suggested Van Aert hit his back wheel as he was accelerating. Either way, several bodies hit the ground, and Wout van Aert left the race with severe road rash, as Lidl-Trek saw two of their Flanders favourites - Pedersen and Stuyven - licking their wounds, the latter especially badly affected.

The aftermath was slightly bizarre, but it led to the formation of the winning move. Many riders still seemed to be coming to terms with the chaos, but Jorgenson opened the taps on the Kanarieber as if it was all business as usual. It seemed like many hesitated, but those who jumped after it were rewarded.

Along with Benoot and Küng, the group of five was made up of the EF Education-EasyPost duo of Alberto Bettiol and Michael Valgren. Remarkably, Tarling, the 20-year-old European time trial champion, attacked from the mina group and bridged across 10km later.

The finale

At the top of Ladeuze with 40km to go, the group reached the six remaining breakaway riders, as Tarling was briefly distanced for the first time. 10km later, having established a commanding advantage over a disorganised main chase group, the leaders hit the Huisepontweg cobblestone sector, where Küng smashed it on the front.

De Bondt and Abrahamsen were the only breakaway men to survive, and indeed they thrived, right on the wheel with Jorgenson and Bettiol as Valgren was dropped. Benoot and Tarling were also distanced but fought their way back on soon after.

On the penultimate climb of Nokereberg with 23km to go, Bettiol launched a vicious attack and went clear, but paid for his efforts when he cramped on the Herlegemstraat cobbles and had to drop out of the group.

With 17km to go, Benoot and Jorgenson played their first one-two, with Kung closing, and they left it until 10km to go to do it again on the final climb in Nokere, this time asphalted. Tarling and De Bondt went after it, with a gap to the rest, but it came back together over the top, even if Tarling was left trailing again and then made to suffer off the back under repeat accelerations from Küng.

The decisive moment came with 7.5km to go, when Küng relented and Benoot attacked. De Bondt and Abrahamsen closed it, and as the group eased up Jorgenson hit them for six. There was no response, and the race was won and lost right there.

Race Results

1

us flag

JORGENSON Matteo

Team Visma | Lease a Bike

4H 07' 44"

2

no flag

ABRAHAMSEN Jonas

Uno-X Mobility

+ 29"

3

ch flag

KÜNG Stefan

Groupama-FDJ

"

4

be flag

BENOOT Tiesj

Team Visma | Lease a Bike

"

5

be flag

DE BONDT Dries

Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team

"

6

gb flag

TARLING Joshua

INEOS Grenadiers

+ 44"

7

it flag

MILAN Jonathan

Lidl-Trek

+ 1' 47"

8

dk flag

VALGREN Michael

EF Education-EasyPost

"

9

dk flag

NORSGAARD Mathias

Movistar Team

"

10

fr flag

GACHIGNARD Thomas

TotalEnergies

"

Provided by FirstCycling

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