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Matteo Jorgenson believes that last year’s points battle has been a good thing for the Movistar team going into 2023.
The Spanish squad was one of several fighting for their survival in the WorldTour at the end of last season. Jorgenson was even forced to skip the world championships in Australia in September as the team tried to keep as many warm bodies in the game of mopping up points.
It worked out and Movistar stayed inside the top 18, ensuring its place in the WorldTour for the next three seasons. The immediate pressure may be off, for now, but Jorgenson thinks that the kick in the behind that the threat of relegation gave the squad was needed.
“In the end, we had to do our job and try to score as many points as we could and it did create some stress within the team, but I think it was a positive,” Jorgenson told VeloNews at the recent Tour of Oman. “Looking back now, I think it was a positive push. I think we needed a little bit of a push to just look for victories and try to win races. I think that kind of stress forces everyone to improve themselves.”
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Whether it is the push of last year’s relegation fight or a combination of other factors, Movistar has hit the ground running at the start of this season. Jorgenson has been a big part of that after he claimed his first-ever professional win on stage 3 of the Tour of Oman, before going on to take the overall victory by a single second on Jabal Al Akhdhar.
New signings Ruben Guerriero and Fernando Gaviria have also seen success in the opening two months of the year. Guerriero took the GC honors at the Saudi Tour as well as a stage, while Gaviria sprinted to a stage win at the Vuelta a San Juan.
“I’m hoping that we keep that same attitude, to be honest, but without the stress. Obviously of if we don’t make it, then we were all out of jobs,” Jorgenson said of the relegation fight in 2022. “I think that stress has gone, which is really good. But I’m hoping that we keep that same attitude of trying to actually win races and every day looking for an opportunity to win instead of just seeing where we ended up.”
A contract year
Jorgenson is heading into his fourth season with Movistar, after a breakthrough year with the team last season. The 23-year-old’s contract will run out with the team at the end of 2023 and he’s already starting to think about his prospects.
He doesn’t yet have a deal on the table with Movistar and he’s hoping that a successful season will see him contemplating some offers, including from his current squad. His title-winning ride at the Tour of Oman will certainly help him with that.
“It’s a contract year, so I want to try to make it a really good year. I think I’ve had the winter focus prep to do that. We’re just going to try to take it race by race and see where I can end up. I mean, I want to try to see how well I can do and that will open doors,” Jorgenson told VeloNews, prior to taking his stage 3 victory.
Jorgenson turned professional with Movistar aged just 19 back in 2020, a season that was massively disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite discussing his own doubts about his capabilities, Jorgenson has had a steady progression through the team’s ranks.
He made his grand tour debut at the 2021 Giro d’Italia and put in some promising rides throughout that season, including his top-10 finish at Paris-Nice. Last year saw him hit up the Tour de France for the first time after an injury-induced change to his original program.
While he didn’t walk away with a win, Jorgenson got into three successful breaks and took some valuable lessons into this year.
“I don’t think I could have started my professional career and a better team. Since the first year on the team, they’ve given me opportunities, and a lot of freedom to race my own race,” he said. “In a lot of other teams, I probably would have just been riding the front, you know. So, I think that’s a huge thing I can’t underestimate. I have nothing to be except thankful for the team because I’ve got to try a lot of races in an almost leadership role, and some huge races. It’s been pretty special.”
At the time, Jorgenson signed his Movistar contract for the 2020 team, he’d been living in Europe for a couple of years. However, unlike many non-European pros, he had been living and racing in France rather than heading to Girona.
It meant that he had next to no Spanish when he moved to the team, but he’s quickly learned the language ropes and is now fluent in Spanish. It has been a thoroughly worthwhile endeavor for him.
“You have to make an effort to learn the language. But once you do that, I think it’s a super open culture. They really like it when you put the effort into language and once you’re speaking Spanish, and you’re part of the group, I think it’s a really nice environment and atmosphere,” Jorgenson said.
“The big thing is that you have to make that effort initially and, if you don’t, it’s hard, because a lot of the staff and the team don’t speak English. But I like learning languages and it’s important for me also to learn languages for myself. I like it, and to just show decency to the team and show respect for the culture. It’s been great and in three years, I’m fluent in Spanish, so I couldn’t ask for anything more.”