'A bit mind-bending' – how Matteo Jorgenson won Paris-Nice

Matteo Jorgenson tells Rouleur about how he took his biggest victory yet at Paris-Nice

How are you feeling about your victory?

It’s still settling in but it’s a huge accomplishment. If I think about where I’ve come from, and the expectations that I had for myself when I turned professional, or even when I was a kid in the US wanting to be a pro, I think an achievement like this seemed so far out of reach that having done it now is a bit mind-bending.

Paris-Nice seems to be a race that suits you, and you also live locally…

I think it’s the WorldTour stage race that is the best for me, and I’ve felt that for a while. Even after my first time doing it, I could see that it really suited me well. Usually there’s only one day with really big mountains and if it’s one big day I can recover quite well from it. Also, living here, I train here all the time and I know all the roads really well.

Take us through your week…

We came into the race with the priority objective to win three sprint stages with Olav [Kooij]. They brought a pretty specific team for him. The Van Dijke brothers and Edo Affini – all three of those guys were basically just for him. But they’re also really big engines and good on the flat and good at positioning, so they helped me a lot as well. The first few stages of Paris-Nice are always so stressful that it was helpful to have a sprinter and guys who were motivated to keep him high up because it also kept me high up, so I stayed in position and out of the chaos. After the first stage, I said to somebody that it was the least stressful opening Paris-Nice stage I’d ever had, because I was out of the rough and tumble.

Once we did the TTT we focused on coming back up the GC. I wouldn’t say we had a disappointing TTT, but we didn’t get the result we wanted with the weather. I think we did a good performance for the conditions we had, but we lost quite a bit of time. From that point we had to work with what we had and try to move back up. We didn’t have the team to split the race like Quick Step or UAE, so we had to be a bit more creative and let those teams play it out and see if we could capitalise.

On Mont Brouilly, you finished with the other GC riders. Was that good confirmation of your form?

That was a good marker of where I was at. From the outside, it didn’t look great because we let Santi [Buitrago] and Plapp take time. It was a strange day, to let those two guys go, and it was the moment that I realised this race was not going to be controlled by anybody because we literally watched two, not premier GC favourites, but GC riders rider away, and no team had the ability or intention to bring them back. That set the tone for the rest of the race. I finished with Remco and had really good feelings. He did take some time, because I’m not as explosive, but I felt really good. It gave me confidence.

Read more: Pro bike: Paris-Nice winner Matteo Jorgenson's Cervélo R5

The stage to Le Colle-sur-Loup is where you gained time on Evenepoel. How did you get away, and was it planned?

It was pretty improvised. It’s not like before the stage we had it written that I would attack on the climb, but I did discuss with Marc [Reef – DS], and we agreed that if there was a moment of hesitation, to take full advantage. We looked at Plapp as an example that in this race there was going to be hesitation and there are moments to take advantage. 

Matteo Jorgenson

Roglič went, and forced Remco to come back to him, so maybe they were both a bit annoyed at each other, and that if somebody attacked, they might both expect the other to ride. I felt that and took advantage of the moment. It was a really good move. It was good timing, I had some luck and I felt great. As soon as I attacked, I still had gas to open the gap up and hold them off for a while. Once Brandon [McNulty] and Skjelmose came across, it was a perfect situation. We all had something to gain. Skjelmose sat on for most of it, but Brandon really pulled strong and we both really committed to GC.

What kind of communication did you have in the escape?

I had some choice words with Skjelmose at one point because he took me off the back a few times and forced me to close the gap to Brandon. He said that he was far down on GC and not riding for GC, but I don’t believe him for a second! They had a worse TTT than we did, but that’s not my fault. He was still in there for the GC. He took advantage of the situation and that’s fine; that’s bike racing. He knew Brandon and I would ride full gas, and there would be no scenario where we sat up and waited for everybody to come back. He was smart, but I also think he could have ridden, and still beaten me and Brandon in the sprint pretty handily. He might have ended up on the podium, looking back now, but he got a stage win, it’s all good. It was a nice coup, I would say. It wasn’t a specific GC day, but if you look at the amount of time I was able to take back that day, it was pretty significant and a big reason for my win.

What was your feeling going into the stage to La Madone d’Utelle?

I think a lot of guys saw the weather and were pretty apprehensive, just trying to survive for most of it, because it was a filthy day. From the neutral zone, it was raining and we were shivering. Everybody was trying to get to the front just so they could push a bit and make themselves warmer.

That day went by well for us. The team rallied around me and I could feel that. We let Vlasov take the stage and Brandon cracked a bit at the end. We took some time back but I was happy to not be in yellow after the finish. I know what the last day of Paris-Nice is like and I’ve watched many guys lose the yellow jersey on the last day. Psychologically it was better to be a little behind. Coming from behind you have a different mindset than if you’re in yellow and you’re sitting there waiting to get attacked.

How did you manage the last day?

Last year was my first time racing that stage and I had confidence from that because I think I was the second strongest rider that day behind Pogačar, and the stage suits me perfectly. There is not so much climbing, so it’s good for a big guy, but still hard enough to make a difference and drop the bigger guys. It’s a battle all day, so it’s a day I think I really like. There’s nothing I could have done differently.

Paris-Nice 2024

Remco definitely went into the day trying to win the race; I felt that 100 per cent. His attacks on the [Col de] Peille were not half attacks – he was going all in every single time, to the point where after a few he couldn’t really continue. It was actually really impressive to watch, because being 35 seconds down on that day, you have to be pretty motivated to come back. He did a really good job and I was good enough that day to hang on. On Peille he noticed that after his third attack, once I started riding through, I was riding at a higher pace than he was and I think he realised I was also trying to win the race and open the gap to Brandon. Maybe he realised that we were at a pretty even level and it would be difficult to take back 35 seconds. In the end we were both going to get something out of the day. He was happy to ride, and I was happy to ride with him.

A full, in-depth interview with Matteo Jorgenson will appear in a future edition of Rouleur magazine

Shop now