For ten long minutes, Matteo Jorgenson sat quietly on the edge of the car boot of the Movistar team car waiting to hear official confirmation he had won the Tour of Oman outright.
But when the news came through, shouted – given the lack of internet coverage – by one race reporter to another until word reached the team car some 100 metres above the Jabal Al Akhdar finish line, Jorgenson’s nerves instantly dissolved in a huge roar of delight.
It had been close – very close – as victory atop Jabal Al Alkhdhar for Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal-QuickStep) clearly powered the Belgian up the GC standings thanks to four bonus seconds. However, with Jorgenson coming in just behind the 23-year-old at the sunbaked finish line, the question was – had he taken the five seconds needed to win the red jersey?
After those agonising 10 minutes, with Jorgenson refusing to give interviews until the news had been confirmed for sure, it became clear: the Movistar leader had hung on overall, by a solitary second, with France’s Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën) taking third.
It’s fair to say that Jorgenson’s two victories in Oman, where he is the first North American ever to clinch the overall title, represent a breakthrough, with a capital B, for the young US racer. In just three days he has gone from a fruitless, three-year quest for a first victory to taking not one, but two wins in one of the toughest early-season races out there.
“It was super-hard – I meant the day was relatively easy, it was just the heat that was the issue,” Jorgenson said after his win was confirmed. “I woke up feeling confident this morning, but I was a little nervous. I’m a big guy and this kind of climb tests my limits.”
Vansevenant had pushed him seriously hard, he recognised, and the Belgian took the fight all the way to the line.
“I was worried, that was close. Mauri surprised me a lot. I’ve raced with him a bunch, I don’t know him so well, but he’s in good form – we both were here in surprisingly good form,” he said.
“He went once, I saw he was strong, and I knew that from the sprint the other day [on stage 3] when I got him, he was coming back in the last couple of metres. It was a super good win and congratulations to him!”
The bigger prize, though, was one for Jorgenson, also 23, whose initial goal of winning one race in 2023 was amply superseded by his overall win in Oman.
“For sure, this GC victory was the icing on the cake,” Jorgenson said. “Once I won the other day, I knew I was one of the…
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