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HARELBEKE, Belgium (VN) — Matteo Jorgenson was the best of the rest behind the “Three Kings” to attack his way to fourth at E3 Saxo Classic.
Jorgenson’s ride was the best finish by a U.S. rider ever in the so-called “Mini Tour of Flanders,” and he did it in his first crack at one of the most challenging of the northern classics.
In another demonstration of his ever-widening skillset, the American on Movistar bounded out of a chase group with two kilometers to go glide across the line fourth.
After just missing a gear to follow Mathieu van der Poel, Tadej Pogačar, and winner Wout van Aert, Jorgenson was more than pleased with his intense day out on the bergs.
” I went with 2km to go and held them off,” Jorgenson told VeloNews at the line. “I had really great legs today. I knew this race was one of the hardest classics, and I knew it would be really good for me.
“I came to Belgium just for this race, so it was super nice.”
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Jorgenson was in the thick of the action when Van der Poel opened up with attacks on the Taaienberg with about 80km to go force the first significant separation.
Jorgenson even led briefly and then rode into the elite select group with everything in play.
“I went solo just for a little bit after the Taaienberg just to get ahead of the race a little bit,” Jorgenson said. “Another group came up and I stayed with the big guys. With Cortina fifth, I think we did the best we could.”
Searing attacks by Pogačar on the Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont were too much for Jorgenson to match, but he was one of the strongest in the chase group behind.
“When those three went, obviously I couldn’t go with them,” he said. “It was just full gas, and I saw them riding away. I was in the gutter just suffering. Those guys are really impressive, and hopefully, someday I can be at that level.”
When it was obvious there was no way to bring back the three leaders, Jorgenson managed the situation perfectly to squeeze the best out of the situation.
Movistar teammate Ívan García Cortina also had great legs and was able to latch on to the wheel when Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) drove the final selection out of the lead chase group. Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) also bridged across and the fourth powered toward the line.
E̴q̴u̴i̴p̴o̴ ̴d̴e̴ ̴v̴e̴r̴a̴n̴o̴ ❌
— Movistar Team (@Movistar_Team) March 24, 2023
Coming in behind the winning trio, Jorgenson used the numerical advantage to Küng to jump with 2km to go.
That was all he needed to post his best result so far in one of the most important one-day classics in Belgium.
“I am super happy with fourth. That’s a huge result for me,” Jorgenson said. “I am really starting to like these races more and more. They are chaotic it’s all about positioning, so to be fourth, I am super happy.
“In the end, we weren’t catching those three at the front, so we were racing for fourth,” he said.
Jorgenson heads back to his European base in Nice — at least if ongoing strikes in France don’t slow him down — and he’s back next for the “real” Tour of Flanders.
He’s hoping his ride Friday will bode well for De Ronde and all of the drama that goes with that race.